The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
This short poem by Robert Frost has always been one of my favorites. It pops into my head every now and then, when my heart receives an unexpected change of mood.
On the quiet day when the poet passes under the tree, he is preoccupied with his regrets, involuntarily reliving dark events in his mind. A whirring of wings sends freezing powder down his neck, inside the collar of his coat. He flinches. Perhaps he is angry, wondering for a moment what new challenge the world has thrown his way.
He looks up to see the crow, its bright eye glinting, shuffling its claws through the line of snow that glazes the branch of the hemlock. It unfurls its wings with a quick motion, sending more snow cascading down onto the man's head.
With a muttered oath, he brushes at the snow, frantic to remove it from his hair before it can melt and leave him wet and cold. His gloved hands bat ineffectually at his head.
His movements slow, then halt. He chuckles. He laughs. His head tilts back. He looks up at the crow once more, then walks on, his step swinging freely, his mouth curving upwards.
I have my own hemlock, the dark shadow that looms over me, the poisonous whisper that slips into my mind when I'm off guard.
But I also receive the dust of snow, the unexpected renewing and cleansing, the call out of the darkness of my own thoughts.
"Look!" says the dust of snow. "Look how silly you are, with your whispering voices and your mood. This is a hemlock tree, it's true, but see how I cover it and soften it. See how even a rough-voiced crow can carry me on its wings! See how the hemlock tree stands trapped in its own roots, while I am everywhere. You have only to walk away from the hemlock, and on into the snowy brightness of the day."
And I say, yes, I am very stupid. And I laugh.