The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Overlooked treasures

Rachael Conlin Levy

The crow has returned to the bird bath with another chunk of stale bread, which he dunks in the water before eating it. For three days I have emptied the dish only to find crumbs floating in it the next day.

Bread, again, today. The crow is nothing but black — beak and foot and eye. I force myself to study its darkness, searching its shadows for detail, remembering my photography professor, who, years ago, demanded the same from my pictures.

More bread. When will the crow’s supply dry up? I feel I am being played a fool, but continue to admire the crow’s cleverness in not only figuring out how to turn a piece of crust into a meal, but for finding a steady supply of clean water in which to sop it.

Came today three times. Drank and hopped about. I laughed at its body, a feathered football hobbling about on chopsticks. I watched it fly away, and it did not go far, just to the top of a giant evergreen. As it bobbed and heckled and cackled from its branch, I wondered if it was laughing at me, stuck here in the yard.

Chocolate doughnut today. “Lucky crow!” said Ivan.

The finches, bushtits, juncos and chickadees seem to have left, disappearing after the blossoms dropped from the apple and the pear trees. Now only the robin and starling visit the yard, although the crow is quick to scare them off. Pizza today. Where is it getting its food?

Found a baby bird floating in the water, its innards missing. A starling, I think. For a moment I hate the crow, before reminding myself that it is doing what it is designed to do, like my cats had done, leaving a token of their hunt on my doorstep. But unlike my cats, the crow holds no affinity for me and what little I held for it evaporates as I carried the bird to the garbage can, then returned to scrub and bleach the dish.

Bread, only. Thank God.

More bread.

Sam and I spot the crow holding something in its beak as we left for our run to Sunset Hill. “It’s building a nest,” Sam said. I squinted and shook my head. “I think he’s got a rat,” I said. I imagine finding small delights in the bird bath — pretty lace, a ring, a sentence that reads like poetry — but when when we return from the run, I find the crow with empty beak, wading in the water up to his ankles. I decide to be grateful for the gift of nothing at all.

One response to “Overlooked treasures”

  1. Nature, it is endlessly intriguing. I liked seeing this bit of it through your eyes. I wonder if it was laughing. Crows always seem so smug.

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