Crow Mother (for Frida Kahlo)

They have a memory for faces, my pretty birds.
They are believers in vengeance.
Forgiveness is not in their DNA.
My shiny black sweethearts
will eat out the hearts of those who harm them,
one day.

This is why I love them so.
They are like me
in their smart fierceness,
their desire for payback.
We who have been hurt
part our shiny black hair
down the middle,
tuck in a flower or two,
pull on layers of bright fabric
for camouflage,
and sharpen our talons and beaks
in anticipation.

I will curve my claws into paintbrushes
and carve my revenge into the souls
of those who wrong me.
I abstain from forgiveness
of grave accidents. Neither Diego nor God
shall escape me.
This is why I live on
when they are dead.
We recognize the human in the crow
and the caw at the base
of every human throat.

Come, my black beauties!
I’ve lost my wings, but you
can stab me with your beaks,
hundreds of you,
and hold me in the air
above life’s afflictions.
Don’t fear the pain you’ll inflict.
It won’t be the first time I’ve suffered
the death of unos quantos piquetitos.

I hadn’t planned on living eternally
in that cursed America, alive
on every bottle and tchotchke,
photoshopped onto muscular bodies
in jockey shorts, the U.S.’s favorite saleswoman.
But no one knows who Diego is any longer,
except as the bastard who drove me mad.
Pierce me, my sweet little carrion eaters,
and lift me into eternal life in a cloud of bloody revenge.

Linda Rodriguez’s Skeet Bannion mystery novels, Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, and Every Last Secret, and books of poetry, Skin Hunger and Heart’s Migration, have received many awards, including St. Martin’s/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, Latina Book Club Best Books 2014, Midwest Voices & Visions Award, and Thorpe Menn Award, as well as Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. She is Chair of the AWP Indigenous/ Aboriginal American Writers Caucus.

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