as in sky, so too at sea

by: Tara Ruttenberg

The crows’ circling pattern,

high above us over the jungle-covered cliffs,

grew frenzied as the boat approached,

sea-faring visitors encroaching upon our horizon,

airborne strangers attacking their promised land in the sky.


As usual, they arrived in packs of pairs,

unmistakable squawks announcing their presence from afar.


Observed in isolation, their colors feel brilliant:

fiery red spicy, royal blue magnificent, 

glimmering gold and green in life's always celebration;

but outside their natural habitat,

inserted in our adopted seas,

all charm is lost

to their inability

to play by our rules of the game.


So don’t let their fancy-free feathers fool you,

these visitors are not your friends;

they have come to poach what’s yours,

and to re-poach each other’s prize,

stolen from our well-kept nest.


Black in solidarity,

the crows vied for position,

uncomfortable in the aggressive presence

of their unpredictable, non-native invaders.


The waves carried on below the birds,

perfect, inconsistent,

as we negotiated with the enemy

in glares and paddle-strokes;

waiting in baited breath

against their incessant chatter,

dissonant to our sacred space,

otherwise harmonious in silence,

the unspoken rule.


And finally,

with earsplitting croaks of defeat,

they left,

in the same packs of pairs as when they arrived;

the crows victorious in defending

their territory in the sky.


And once they’d gotten what they came for,

our poachers left, too,

back on their boat

in search of another spot to spoil,

just by being themselves
in our home away from home.


Scarlet macaws,

the Brazilian surfers of the sky.