More than eight years ago, when I was deep into grieving my mother’s death, I composed this piece as a song and sang it with my guitar. A conversation between me and a crow, it has shapeshifted here from a lyric into a poem.

Someplace To Fly

One day, when my mind is clear

and my thoughts are good and true,

I will carry a smile

to show I am pleased to see you.

But for now, I cry.

Tears like feathers fall from my eyes,

‘caws I need someplace to fly.

 

So I asked Crow as she passed by:

Tell me, how do I get to the sky?

The moon and stars, the clouds up above –

tell me, why did you throw them so high?

‘Caws I needed someplace to fly, she said,

spread my wings on the wind and fly.

Just like you, I needed to fly.

 

So I asked Crow the distance here to there:

As the crow flies, if you please, dear.

She caw-cawed at me in the catbird seat:

Whatever there is, is only here.

My bird’s eye view, she said,

is not distant or new.

It’s an ancient truth.

 

If men had wings and black feathers,

few of them would be clever as the crow.¹

It’s not foolishness, this birdishness;

she speaks of what she knows.

It’s a long, long road, she said.

It’s a big, big sky.

We all need someplace to fly.

 

So I asked Crow how it was long ago

that all the world came to be.

The bears and birds, the trunk of an old tree –

tell me, how do they relate to me?

No tale have I to tell, she said,

no book for you to read.

It’s all in remembering.

 

Did you ever run into something

you had never heard before?

Then suddenly, you hear it everywhere;

just a notion it is no more.

It’s syncrownicity, she said.

Not coincidentally,

it happens more often than you think.

 

Crow is a bird of candid frankness

perched right here in a forever tree.

She is old and wise, kind, too;

she never tells you what to do.

There is a world of sky, she said.

I don’t sit and stare at my crow’s feet.

I keep looking up and fly.

 

So I will give up the switchblade in my sleeve

I carry to throw at the crows.

And I will give up the senseless stones in my beliefs

I toss at the ground, head bent low.

‘Caws I have something to crow about,

a wild, joyous truth to cry:

We all need someplace to fly.

 

Silence no longer creeps in the corner.

Time no longer turns

inexplicably through a maze of memories

as a cold mirage in my mind burns.

I am no longer trapped by invisible barriers.

Crow may be merely a crow,

but I don’t think so.

 

I’ve told so many stories;

I finally got hold of the real ones.

I won’t sit and stare at my feet.

I will keep looking up and fly,

I will keep looking up and fly,

I will keep looking up and fly,

I will keep looking up, smile, and fly.

 

¹”If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.” Henry Ward Beecher

Originally composed as a song on May 18, 2010, when I was deep into grieving my mother’s death (December 22, 2009). Refreshed on January 4, 2019, after viewing the movies “Mary Poppins” and “Mary Poppins Returns.” On a wall in our family home, Mother kept a small plaque that read simply, “Keep Looking Up.”