Lost: One-Footed Adult Crow. Reward.

Maybe it should have said “FREE” instead of “LOST.”
Maybe it’s the same crow I hear down the block
puncturing the morning with insistent counterpoint
to the soap-smooth cooing of Sunday doves.
And “LOST” to whom? One creature’s lost
is another’s escape. But now that it’s back
among the power lines and madronas, this crow
really could be adrift, homeless and dressed
in shabby black, roosting in doorways
wrapped in atrophied wings.

There’s the obvious question of how the crow
lost its foot, what led to its pet name of Hopalong,
Long John, or, perhaps, Lefty. Did it happen
when it was young or grown? Or was it born that way,
its whole life a balancing act? Crows are so smart.
Curiosity or boredom could have gotten the better of it
and, suddenly, the idea of spending its maturity
in someone’s care became more necessary than ludicrous:
kind words, a guaranteed ear, the certainty
of scheduled meals, a place to sleep with both eyes closed.

And about that reward. If the crow is returned,
accepts again its cage and perch or even comes back
on its own to reclaim its low-ceilinged kingdom,
will it be win-win all around? The owner regains
a live-in jester. The crow can relax, take a load off its foot.
And the alert-hearted Samaritan, who at first
refused the crisp twenty, now slips it in
with the other bills on the way down the back stairs.
It’s almost like one of those Asian teaching tales –
how the unfortunate open window leads in as well as out.

Jim Natal