Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"The Werecrow" (poem)

[Artwork by Andrew Dobell]

"The Werecrow"
By Joe Nazare
An October harvest moon, the first in four years,
Pumpkin-round, its shadowy craters like Halloween carvings,
Glowing ochre in its overlook of the remote cornfield.
Amidst the withered stalks: a long wooden stake with clavicular crossbeam,
Looking like a solemn crucifix, some emblem of Elias Dunham's devotion.
The old-timer had a reputation for worshipfulness, but not piety,
Was alleged to possess beliefs that lay as far outside
Christian tenet as his property did from the town proper.
Hearsay of the unspeakable led Dunham's farm hands to wash theirs of him;
They quit their positions en masse, and migrated back home to their kin.
The sudden defection occurred at the height of the reaping season,
Leaving a desperate Dunham with no choice but to toil solo.
So he was not soon found when cardiac arrest felled him in this very field.
That was long ago, though, the land neither tended nor tenanted since.
The late Dunham's acres now form an early autumn ruin, muted and static.
But just shy of dawn a writhing darkness invades the scene from above,
Like a tempest-spurred cumulonimbus making an impromptu nose dive.
Steadily the nebulous shape resolves into a murder of crows,
Each with a wormy something pinched between its beak.
Silent but for the flap of their wings, a beaten-rug thump,
The black travelers flock toward the rotten wooden T.
Converging, pecking, contributing the particular scrap transported,
The crows weave a gross anatomy from foot to head, torso to fingertip,
All the while stuffing themselves within the effigy.
The resulting figure stretched on the cross in almost blasphemous pose
Appears as much mummy as frightful straw-man.
Finishing touches are given an instant before the moonlight dies,
As the last of the carrion crafters sew clothes around the corpus,
Zipper an anguished rictus across the face.
And back in town on this morn, an unsettling mystery:
Another overnight vanishing, the first in four years.

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