Bird­watch­ing for the Vis­ually Im­paired

Prairie Fire - - MARIKA PROKOSH -

The pres­ence or ab­sence of a crow

out­side my kitchen win­dow

is the sort of de­tail I might be­gin with,

in­tend­ing to dis­tin­guish the crow

from her corvid sis­ters—raven,

mag­pie, grackle—but the win­dow clouds over

with grit from the av­enue and my cornea blis­ters

un­der the stress of op­tic pres­sure;

the elm’s black branches blur and dou­ble;

the crow could be an over­grown pi­geon, back­lit,

or a tan­gle of wood, un­til she shrieks iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

I must find other de­tails to dec­o­rate

my days, buy a lamp strong

enough to read my Penguin paper­backs

by, clean un­seen dirt by go­ing over

the same patch of floor five times—

just in case— im­pec­ca­ble but not up­tight, soften

onions on a low stove by feel

against my wooden spoon, steam creep­ing

up the kitchen win­dows,

de­velop new meth­ods for sharp­en­ing knives.

I am hon­ing tech­niques to dis­tance me

from the woman who mis­took

a bowl of raw sugar for thick-foamed

cap­puc­cino in a fine restau­rant,

or who can­not dis­tin­guish

the mark­ings of her friends’ tall

flan­nel boyfriends. I am look­ing

up bird calls on YouTube and tun­ing my ear

to quirks of speech, iden­ti­fy­ing

neigh­bours by move­ment and smell

like an an­i­mal, keep­ing co­pi­ous notes to make the world

sound real. I need you still to trust me

when I say it was a crow.

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