Life of Birds by Hayley Stoddard

art by
Shaueel Persadee

The Morrigan is the pagan Celtic Goddess of war, death, and magic. Known as the Phantom Queen, she was a shapeshifter who often took the form of a raven or crow. – Unknown

I wonder what she would think

of all the black birds that have gathered to settle

on my neighbor’s house across the street

on this gray, blustery Sunday in September.

Are they the harbingers of some shadowy message,

carrying the fracture and mystery of their ancient mother

in their feathers, these pagan changelings of magic and prophecy,

who delight in the gathering of a menacing horde?

Or are they untrained, undisciplined civilian birds

living a thoughtless life, unaware of their heritage,

their schools swirling in black swaths across the sky

never considering how accidentally ominous they seem to us?

Perhaps they live ignorant of their own mystique,

not knowing why they feel an urge to sit on the house

of the next person to die, unintelligent and unbothered,

just living the life of birds.

I wondered this outside while taking the garbage cans out

walking cold concrete with no slippers as the wind

raised goosebumps on my forearms, waiting

to be delivered some message from an age long since past.

Hayley Stoddard lives in Colorado, and is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree. Before returning to school, she worked as a medical caregiver to disabled children and to the elderly. She began writing at a young age, and has been inspired by such writers as Billy Collins, John Keats, Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, Anne Lamott, Mary Oliver, and Leonard Cohen. Her work has been seen in Parley Publishing, Oberon, After the Pause, Eris+Eros, and Beyond Words Magazine.

One thought on “Life of Birds by Hayley Stoddard

  1. Such a sweet piece… My husband and I, just yesterday, were discussing crows vs. ravens and I told him how they are so often the topic of much of the poetry I read. Ted Hughes “Crow” is fascinating to me though I confess to not really always (ever?!) getting his poems in this collection. Anyway, I enjoyed this poem. Well done!


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