Black Bird Singing in the Dead of Night

A poem by Shailen Scott

Photo of a silhouette of black bird on branch against a dusky sky

We think death when we see crows,
but they too return and sing with spring’s
call. They let the peacock, aquamarine
of their feathers’ blue, black call out to the sun,
they alight telephone poles and cry blessings
for the children we’ve deemed marked for death,
they see a kindred spirit in black bodies
with the way murder seems to follow them,
with the way too many in one place
tend to make everyone else a little nervous,
with the way they thrive in every habitat,
mimicking to assimilate while singing in night’s shade.

Black birds know they must be quick thinkers
lest they be quickly digested, they know black
children learned to run first as a game, second
as the only way to escape gun shots, sirens,
white women who play victim to see their legs broken.
Black birds know black legs replaced their clipped wings,
they know innovators when they see them.
To them, black isn’t just the last shade seen
when the heart has beaten its drum thin.
Black is the careen in morning light.


Shailen Scott is a writing tutor at UNT Dallas and Collin College with a BA in English (with a focus in creative writing) and a MFA in Creative Writing: Poetry. In her free-time, she draws, reads YA Fantasy, and yells back at her cat. With her work, she hopes to give voice to other black women that they be unapologetic in how they feel.

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