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Flight, Judith Kelly Quaempts


The woman who talks to crows lives on the top of a hill in a one room house with a tin roof. Here, wild horses roam and when it storms, the clouds come down and she walks through the mist like a ghost of herself and the crows call to her from the branches of trees and she answers with hoarse cries that spook the horses and send deer crashing downhill.

What does she hear in their voices? What do they beg her to do? On days the wind-scrubbed sky is clear of clouds and rain, she runs to her secret place and, arms held out, spins, as though only her body can keep the earth in motion. Dark wings of her hair gleam blue-back in the razor-sharp light. The crows call in raucous voices as she spins. Does her body rise to join them in that bright air or does she only think she flies?

One year no crows are seen above the hill. A brave girl-child scales the rocky bluff and finds no sign of the woman who talks to crows, only dusty feathers and skeins of dark hair in a clearing of pounded earth where no wild grass grows. She hears a hoarse cry, looks up, sees a single crow, blue-back against blue sky.

When she begins to spin, her arms fly out.


Judith Kelly Quaempts work appears online and in print, most recently in the Persimmon Tree West Coast States poetry contest, a Poetry Box anthology, and the Buddhist Poetry Review.

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