I saw them this morning as I looked out past the deck of my father’s house to the water beyond, as I admired the filtered light of early morning, the faint mist obscuring the far shore. I was washing dishes, and the crows landed on Dad’s boat, which was on the deck right outside the wall of windows fronting the main room. There they stood, quarreling, on the boat cover, and then they flew about, two up to the trellis on the side of the deck to stand side-by-side and squawk at one which finally flew down to the deck. The fourth, with blowsy, ragged feathers, stood droop-headed on the boat, looking back and forth between the two scolding birds and the one on the deck, and then flew to the deck railing. The two on the trellis flew after it, dancing and jigging, ruffling feathers as though to make themselves look bigger. There was a scuffle. The bird on the deck joined in. They scolded and leapt back and forth, and whatever they were saying to each other was hardly affectionate. I wish I understood Crow.
After a while the three sleek crows came together, rounding on the ragged one, and the ragged one hopped back and forth from foot to foot, cawing rapidly, before launching itself up into the air and flying off. The three sleek crows talked amongst themselves for a moment, and then flew up, one by one, in the opposite direction from the ragged crow, until the deck was deserted once more.
How did they know, these four crows, to act out their little drama on my father’s deck, in front of me, who would see, of course, the four girls in the family and their eternal family roles?