A Cloud of Blackbirds
By CL Bledsoe
They came for the corn. The sky,
a wave of black dots, static
on an old-timey television, but they
moved and flowed like they might cover
the sun. As they settled into the rows,
arrogant as landlords, their raucous cries
taunted us. We’d learned to plant rice after
they’d migrated, soybeans near the roost
to discourage them, spray cattails
to kill their nests, but corn was corn.
Their feathers were black peppered
with gray like my father’s hair. I didn’t know
a word for beauty like theirs, fragile
and alien, but ours were not hearts open
to sharing. We rented traps big
as trailers. The birds came through the top
to feed but couldn’t escape. We expected
to get maybe 20 a day; we got 200
in a week, but they kept coming.
We had to dump them out, afterwards.
Tiny black bodies, strange and hard.