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John Tustin

The Crow Funeral

If you see one in progress
as you’re passing by,
stop and take off your hat
to honor the crow funeral.
Unlike the rabbits or the trout,
the crows hold funerals
for their fallen.
Not to mourn
but to warn their brethren
that this, too, could happen to them.
Come look! Come see
how your brother or sister
has come to their end.

Their caws not the wails of grief
aimed at the heavens
of which they have no concept
but a call to the others
to come and see what is horribly possible
and maybe to gather a posse
that will enact revenge on a perpetrator.
They know of no afterlife,
only today and tomorrow
so danger cannot exist to them
beyond what they have seen.

They accept you there,
seeing your manner and expression
and knowing you mean no harm.
As they gather
not one of them thinks,
“I’m glad it’s not me”
but instead cries out to the others,
“Be careful. This could happen to you.”
They ruffle their wings in unison
and you stand there awed,
knowing that in the moment
they are naturally better than you.

if you see the crow funeral,
give respect
but don’t dare dishonor them
with something so useless
as a prayer.

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. contains links to his published poetry online.


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