Cathexis Northwest Press
Sonnet for a Dying Crow
By: Aria Dominguez
On a bitter moonlit eve in our backyard,
a crow flounders in deep snow.
Rasping as it breathes, hard.
I approach slowly, whispering soft and low.
I lift the black beast from the drift, look it in the eye.
It does not fight or squirm, but stares right back at me.
I see that soon, this very night, it will die.
My son cries, “Mama, mama, let me see!”
My husband is mute with horror: an omen at our door.
I can’t save it, nor can I throw it back on the frigid ground.
We lay a soft cloth in a box, place it on the porch floor.
It’s the only decent thing to do with what we have found.
As the emblem of death is dying in my hand, I whisper, please listen to me:
when your brethren swoop to signal sorrow, recall the small kindness I did for thee.
Aria Dominguez is a writer whose poetry and creative nonfiction navigate the terrain between beauty and pain. Her work has been published in anthologies and she was the winner of the 2021 Porch Prize in Creative Nonfiction and a finalist for the 2021 Lighthouse Writers Workshop Emerging Writers Fellowship in Nonfiction. She works with a nonprofit focused on food justice and lives in Minneapolis with her son.
"This poem describes the time I encountered a dying crow in my yard when returning home with my family on a winter night. My young child had an innocent curiosity, my husband at the time was horrified by what he considered a bad omen, and I felt pity for a creature whose life was ending. Once it looked me in the eye, I felt a responsibility to care for it, even if that meant laying it gently in a soft hospice box on my porch where animals wouldn't tear it apart. In the morning, it was dead, as I had expected, but its iridescent feathers were beautiful, and I found myself compelled to study it closely: the sheen of the feathers, the bumpy texture of the feet, the smooth, hard beak. I laid it back in the snow where I found it, and had what my husband found to be a creepily morbid photo shoot. I simply felt like it was something I wanted to remember, in words and images. As I was looking at the photos for the first time in ten years, inspired by writing this background, my son looked over my shoulder. He doesn't recall the original incident, but met the images with the same straightforward admiration and curiosity as the first time he saw the crow. "