Home > The Crowd > Crows of Still Creek

Crows of Still Creek

December 9, 2010

by Robin Susanto

Countable Stencils, by Robin Susanto
Countable stencils

Darkness falls bird by bird
As strokes of charcoal on the canvas of evening
Where light has abandoned its outline
A vision that fills in the blank in the matte of the pupils

The crows of still creek are marking the spot
Where night will open its first eyes

Where alpha meets atlantic
Avenues that have shed their names
To be no one’s ocean or alphabet
But the first furrows on night’s dark brow
Where no sun cuts shadows into countable stencils
Where the last light has bled its dye
From the ledge of twilight
Down the face of a shut warehouse
The vastness of space in pools at ground level
Where the city has broken its blocks

The crows of still creek are boarding up the night

Shutting down the stars the city’s fluorescence
The sidewalk slat by slat
Until they themselves are no longer
Feathers by the thousands
But one shadow under one roost

Night at last

But the night the crows bring down is not the night we burn
In the indoor fires by the flicker of the screen

True night is light

In the puddle of the iris
All that we have put out of sight
The garbage routes they have memorized
The blown kisses that have fallen
No longer love but crumbs that can take flight only in the guts of scavengers
In the puddle of the iris
Where our vision meets its mud
The crows have lit their light
A new city from the scraps of what we have put out of sight
(This is why we hate them)

But most of all the crows want to show us flight
A true bird to us who still give wings to the angels
Cheating as we do when we don’t take away their arms
As if the sky had a substance we could grasp
A clutch of grass to prove where love has been

But to be winged is to love armless
With no limbs to entwine
No palms to cradle a face
Or a paw to lightly rest on a breathing belly

The crows of all birds have envy in their eyes
They are black with knowledge and it drives them mad
Cawing for our sight
True darkness where we are blind
Vision one bird’s eye view at a time


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Birds are too showy/ Robin Susanto prefers to look for flight in low-lying shrubs/ where gravity climbs by its own weight/ like syrup up the capillaries of the quietly growing.

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  1. Christina
    December 10, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Just gorgeous, Robin! Such a treat to hear your recording. Thank you for this.

  2. Heather Reid
    December 10, 2010 at 4:53 am

    Some beautiful images here.You had me at the first line – fantastic.

  3. December 10, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Superb lines, Robin! Each of them. And you keep the mood as well…”True darkenss where we are blind”. Yet listening to you somehow softens the coming of “Night at last”, which I read with my own darkness, my own hardness. But I love how you deliver the poem both ways. Thank you!

  4. December 10, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    In the photo, the movement is mesmerizing / I hear the crows screaming ~

  5. Robin Susanto
    December 12, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you all for your warm reception.

    I have to confess my ambivalence about the online community – because it is disembodied. So to ameliorate the situation, here’s some bodily information you can place in time and space:

    I live in Vancouver, British Columbia. Still Creek, where both the photo and the poem were taken, is an actual creek just outside of city limit. Every day at dusk, all the crows in the city and the surrounding suburbs flock there to roost, and I imagine to exchange intelligence about garbage collection schedule and precise habits of bird feeders at the parks. You’d see all these crows flying in the same direction all through the twilight hours. I have actually used them as clock and compass. One fine evening I decided to follow them. That’s how I found Still creek.

  6. December 12, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Thanks for contextualizing that for us, Robin! Adds to my appreciation of the poem and image.

    I share your ambivilence, though I’d suggest that this ability for author and audience to communicate about a work actually makes the online medium feel less disembodied than traditional paper media at times.

  7. Cinthia
    December 15, 2010 at 8:51 am

    C’est magnifique Robin… Bravo! xx

  8. December 16, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    A very fine poem. The meter and rhythm sublime as it sets the tone of the poem, matched by original details and the poet’s sure voice.

  9. March 9, 2011 at 11:01 am

    What a treat to happen upon this poem this morning. Such fullness and density of image and thought. So many favourite lines. I know I will read it many times. I too live in Vancouver and this poem takes me right to the images of the crow river each day. Like a creek in the sky. And the photo is a haunting negative. Thanks, Robin.

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