The Seed Thieves—Revisited: Scarecrow Cross

To join with those all around the globe celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Seed Thieves, my first collection of poems,  I have decided I will share a weekly poem from the collection with some insider information, because 1) why not, and 2) I’m weary of how so many dozens of famous critics have misread my work over the years and 3) you’ll seem so much smarter at your The Seed Thieves 10th Anniversary Party to have these insider tidbits at your disposal.

SCARECROW CROSS

Scarecrow, what now? Once in a long
gone time, I stitched you thread by thread,
helped weave, across your wooden spine—
small thrush busy at a nest—a thatched cross
of arms, a tattered fashion of rags and rope

stolen from my father’s chest. Now, the last stalks
sway and shiver as I watch you wrecked from far away:
in low approach, the crows arrive; the seed thieves
dive and dive. The murder’s here. What now?
Two crows perch, one on each shoulder;

their talons here to unravel you. A dark caw,
a shred of feathers, one pecks the straw heart,
another claws the burlap face apart.
Should I pray? Should I turn away? Half stand
in hungry shadows, half fly in famished light.

 


{I started with this poem because it is where I discovered the title of the collection, after the fact. The poem was inspired by a conversation with my friend Patrick Ramos, who had told me I’d appeared in his dream holding a scarecrow that disassembled into a cross. I loved the image and knew immediately I had to write the poem. The poem encapsulates my personal struggle with trying to remain strong enough to ward off a sense of doom/danger, despite the dissolution of my faith. It was composed in Spring, 2000 and is haunted by the Columbine massacre; the image of the two killers in dark trench coats swooping toward the school was at times superimposed on my crows during composition. The shadows vs. light, doubt vs. faith thread that runs throughout The Seed Thieves is central here. The construction of childhood faith is emphasized in stanza one, distance and dissolution in stanza two; the third stanza opens into the ultimate question—whether to pray or turn away. “Half” refers to the crows, and to us.—RF, 2/19/16}

For more Revisited poems from The Seed Thieves, hit up the HOME PAGE. 

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