A Crow and Her Mate and I
I was walking my usual route to my most usual watering hole yesterday when, part way through my route, I felt pulled to walk on one side of the street rather than the other. I stopped to consider this for a moment, because, weird, this being pulled to walk on the east rather than the west side of the street, but I’ve learned to listen to these urges. There are points of significance when I do.
So, I turned the corner and walked on the less-than-usual east side of the street.
Halfway down the block, I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked down to see a smaller crow shuffling around on a lawn only two or three feet from me. When I stopped and looked down at her, she hunched a wing and affected a stagger.
I wish I could explain how this happens, this thing that happens to me. I am often closed off, shut down from outside emotions. It's a defensive measure, because I can feel stronger emotions from people and animals to a sometimes debilitating degree. On occasion, though, like yesterday, I am caught with my defenses down.
I felt this prickling rush of grief cover and fill my whole body. Her fear and grief was staggering. Tears rushed, too, and I turned to look for her partner. I had to see it, too. I had to know. I found him twenty feet back lying on his side in the street. He was dead.
I've seen this at least twice before. Crows have strong pairbonds, generally mating for life, and they will try to draw attention away from their injured partner just as they would draw attention away from their nest of babies by behaving as though they are easy prey. Once, a male crow latched onto a fire hydrant and leaned out to bite my hands as he defended his injured mate. I cried then, too.
I walked back toward the female crow.
He's gone, girl, I said. She cocked her head up at me, and we watched each other's eyes.
You don't know that yet, but he's gone. She sidled left, then right, and then stopped to eye me again and listen to me speak.
As the sadness ebbed a little, I realized that, objectively, I was a woman openly weeping over a crow and talking to his partner out loud in the street about grief and loss. I didn't want to be seen when I was so strange and vulnerable. I walked away from her. I turned a sharp left and crossed in the middle of the street. I couldn't handle her feelings inside my chest, not when I could do nothing for her.
I hope she lets him go peacefully. I hope she has young to distract her. Crows can stay like this for days, and a grieving crow is sometimes destroyed by pest control if they become too aggressively protective and pose a threat to people.
I just can't shake her, that point of significance I found on the east side of the street. I can't shake the look of her as she staggered on that lawn and cocked her head, turning her eye in its socket to take all of me in.