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Her majesty the raven
dressed in afternoon sunlight
gilding her feathers with liquid fire.

Owning nothing,
she takes what she needs.

Her empire begins above your head.
Air currents sustain her, lift her
giving grace and meaning to her wings.

This she accepts as her rightful tribute
her payment for centuries of survival
and her genius in conquering gravity.

Spying her mate, she sails the sky
carrying her prize in a beak as black
as the flag of no nation.

Solar gold, stolen silver
and her lover’s heart:

What will not last forever
today belongs to her.


This poem appears in the collection Inner Planets: 50 Poems by Matthew Howard. Available in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook.