Two weeks before,
a raven penguin-walked slowly
along the trail in front of Jane.
clutching a broken wing at its side.
In exhaustion, it finally fell.
Above, others of the flock cawed loudly.
If this creature dies, she wondered,
would these silk-black carrion-fanciers
eat their own.
In fading light, Jane wrapped it
in her backpack, bore it home.
When we walk her good-will farm
of pens and fields and cages,
she introduces me to all the other creatures
that have come to be with her.
A mule nibbles grass behind a fence.
A free-roaming goat bumps against my thigh.
She shows me the raven,
patched up by a local vet,
bundled in a towel.
still nervous and bewildered.
She says creatures like this give her purpose,
reason for getting up in the morning.
The bird struggles to spread deficient wings.
gargles and hacks,
before settling down
into the rhythm of Jane's chest and heart.
Its pupils, black and rimmed with yellow,
roll from her to me then back again.
Her own eyes fill with tears.
The bird is here.
not fox-pecked on some trail.
Not booted by boys.
Nor invaded by insects.
The bond is undeniable.
It will take care of Jane
until it heals.
John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident, recently published in Stand, Washington Square Review and Floyd County Moonshine. Latest books, Covert, Memory Outside The Head and Guest Of Myself are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and Open Ceilings.