about the author

Jared Silvia is the host of the Functionally Literate reading series. His fiction has appeared with Monkeybicycle, Annalemma Magazine, Digital Americana Magazine, and collections from Burrow Press.

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, and Crows

Jared Silvia

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At first he thought the crow talked, and then he was sure because it fluffed up, squared itself, black eyes leveled, still, even though the other crows were loop-the-looping in the marshmallow sky, way up above the abandoned boatyard where he had been walking, wandering, really, past red and white dry-docked fishing skiffs, barnacle blooms, old ropes, kicking around, thinking about The Island of Gods, the pastel brochure they gave him when he arrived, all of that, until he heard “kon ban wah” over his shoulder, looked up, saw a crow ensconced on that power line, or maybe that phone line, staring down like waiting for a response, a crow that opened its beak and said, again, “kon ban wah” with such perfect diction that all he could think to say back was “good evening,” and the talking crow just kept talking, talking in his mind all night, so much that he e-mailed that cute writer he met who published that magazine about crows called Crow’s with an apostrophe-S, as though to say that writer was, herself, spoken for already by the crows themselves, the writer who wrote back to say that crows do sometimes speak, but usually only to say “good morning,” and never yet had she heard of a crow saying “good evening,” and in the video she attached, a crow plumped up on a wooden fence, round on the sides, high in the middle, said, “o-hay-o, o-hay-o,” and it was morning, orange peel sun riding the high blue, and he had not slept, could not sleep in his borrowed pajamas, but had found these papers online about the phenomena of talking crows, called the office of that ornithologist who wrote them, the ornithologist who said this just happens sometimes, happens a lot more in the Izus, happens because crows love speaking Nihongo, happens because English is a strange flavor on a crow tongue, and some of it comes down to preference, maybe, and maybe English speakers just don’t listen to crows, and maybe English speakers just don’t listen to anyone, he said, punch-punching each word, and that’s all fine, but then there’s this guy sitting on an upturned bucket, you know, in the dry dock, where it’s good to stroll because of the dead ship graveyard silence, the kelp smell rising from the pavers, and the guy on the bucket by the red and white boat with the jagged gash grin on the side says that, yes, sometimes the crows around here get a little chatty, and when they do, he sprays them with a poisonous gas, and he shows off the canister with its skulls and its crossbones, has this look in his eyes like maybe he stared into the sun, maybe a few times, and this island, you know, and everything, like how the crows are always so polite, greeting him, giving him reverent little feather ruffles, and maybe there is no god, right, because maybe it was just this crow, you know, and it talked, and it said “good evening,” and maybe that’s all there was to it.

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