Best of the Net 2014  

Murder in the Red Barn

The angels subdued Lilith and ordered her to return to Adam. She refused,
and said that she would henceforth weaken and kill little children, infants, and babes.

—Rabbinic midrash

unkindness: a gathering of ravens

I came to you like an unkindness, black feathers falling
from the quiver of my coat, an ebony trail
for you to follow. I made you weak

with words (and forgive me), my hands were next,
brushing your hair with my handful of quills
until moonlight unlocked you and let me

into your body. Months later, you moved like quiet
through the clover and stood beneath
the bend of my perch. My eyes beat

against the distance and I left you
to peer up at me as I flexed into flight. The thin reed
of my call brought you homing to the barn that sat

like a bloodstain on the hill. There, against the startled
light, I pulled the last breath from you. It smeared
red fingers across your cheeks, the ladder, the grain bin.

It cried like the end of autumn and flapped
from rafter to rafter.

- Ash Bowen (from Baltimore Review)