A singer some of us remember announced
that she is celebrating her elderly mother’s
birthday “corvid style” this year.
Some of us would like
to imagine living and being loved forever,
and some of us would like to hear what groups
of animals are called, so happy birthday to
a smack of jellyfish, and many more
to a tower of giraffes. How old are you,
sweet knot of toads, how old.
The singer meant to write
“covid style” but nobody I know wants
to see a virus pop out of a cake. Corvids
on the other hand—a hundred bluejays
with buttercream streaking their feathers,
a hundred magpies with golden crumbs
clinging to their beaks, a hundred crows
with the receding light of a hundred candles
illuminating the blueblack hinges of their wings
as hundredly they rise—who wouldn’t want
to live long enough, to be loved long enough
to get to watch them when they soar away.
Mark Bibbins is the author of four poetry collections, most recently 13th Balloon from Copper Canyon Press. His first, Sky Lounge, received a Lambda Literary Award. Bibbins lives in New York City and teaches in the graduate writing programs of The New School and Columbia University, and in NYU’s Writers in Florence program.
Image: Detail of Pieter Holstein, Ets II, 1964, etching and gouache. From the Rijksmuseum, © Pieter Holstein.