what is being fed

the crow appeared in our garden
one day in pandemic-spring.
cherry blossom petals dotted
the ground still: our only measure
of time passing. the crow
watched us approach through
blue-rimmed eyes
but stood motionless. too young
to be afraid. or perhaps
extremely afraid
unable to flee
how strange it is when art
springs into life.
this crow for example, fluttering
out of my pages,
conjured into being through
scribbles on paper,
their fate flowing out
from my pen
the children made the crow a nest
out in the back corner of the garden.
what should we feed it,
they asked. sunflower seeds
were all we had.
we sprinkled them in the grass
while the crow watched. disinterested.
other crows swooped down to squawk
at the young one and i told myself
we had done what we could.
now the crows
would take care of their own
how can i claim
that this crow appeared
because of my stories?
when my stories
were never only mine.
they were borrowed things
flowing in on some mysterious current,
and i held them
barely long enough
to understand
in the end, this story
was a short one. next morning
the crow was no more. torn apart
by some predator, threadlike entrails
decorating the grass, head bleeding
on the steps of the garden shed.
sometimes even flowing water
cuts like a claw. the price of creation
is to see it mirrored in a thousand ways.
it isn’t always clear
what is being fed

how often stories end here:
the blood on the pavement.
the cold eternity of the grave. but where is
the true end? or is the end never true?
the sunflower seeds nestling
into soil fed by a bird’s
hollow bones.
the yellow blossoms
lifting their faces
to the sun
of a new spring.

Portrait of Alanna

Alanna Peterson (she/her)

Alanna Peterson loves digging in the dirt, learning languages, creating elegant spreadsheets, and challenging systems of oppression. She is the author of a series of young adult thrillers inspired by food justice movements. To learn more about her work, visit alannapeterson.com/stories