The Age of Ravens by Faith Shearin

The Age of Ravens

My daughter and I found them in places
where we once saw people:
abandoned churches and cafes,
the stone town square where

we no longer shopped; we noticed their
black plumage leaned over winter’s casualties,
saw them sliding on snow with sleds
made of bark, surfing updrafts,

fashioning toys from pine cones. It is time now
for the age of ravens who call
to wolves in the language
of wolves. In the Old Testament,

in smoldering remains, nothing
is permitted to pass except
the ravens. In myth they are tricksters,
or souls of wicked priests; they are messengers

connecting objects
with spirits. But the time of man
has passed and I understand why
ravens with clipped wings

live in the Tower of London, guarding
the entire British empire, and why a raven
was released from Noah’s Ark
before the dove to see if the floodwaters

had receded. Harbingers of death
they have been watching us from
telephone poles, cupolas, spires;
they do not care

that we call them an unkindness;
they have come down from their cliffs,
where their nests are lined
with hair, to overtake

our villages, to smash ants
and rub them all over their bodies,
to carry tools and brandish weapons.


Faith Shearin’s books of poetry include: The Owl Question (May Swenson Award), Moving the Piano (SFA University Press), Telling the Bees (SFA University Press), Orpheus, Turning (Dogfish Head Poetry Prize), Darwin’s Daughter (SFA University Press), and Lost Language (Press 53). She has received awards from Yaddo, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Recent work has been read aloud on The Writer’s Almanac and included in American Life in Poetry.

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