The Free Crows by David Hensley

A hard path, they said, the high path

to freedom, fortune and frankfurters.

A hard path it was, true, too hard for me.

You know, you saw me fall,

stumbling on the slippery stones

then rolling with them

into the ravine.


You knew not to search

for my broken body, too late it was

in the night, needing to cross

the border before dawn,

and too late for me.


How fitting I felt, as I fell

to die here, on this bed

of shattered rocks so like the broken bricks

of our village of hell.


There the first shells fell

into the schoolyard beside the mosque

scattering pieces of plaster

and of our wives and children.


In a better year, we would

have been there too, that day;

not away, foraging for food,

listening for the rustle of rabbits

but hearing only the blasts,

the crashes of collapsing masonry

sheltering the screams of our sisters.


So we did not really leave

our beloved land, it’s loveliness was lost,

taken from us

before we left, bereft.


Crossing the sea was frightening,

we grew so sick, but could not die

in her strange embrace: better

to die here, between familiar boulders,

carrion, for the free crows.


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