Pecking Crow

Jennifer Nabicht

I am a crow, a black bird that hides in the dark. I pick and prod my skin until it bleeds.

Crows are an adaptive species of bird. They strive in  rural places to crammed cities where there isn’t room to breathe. They have the common sense to migrate or to simply move to a warmer spot in their territory. They know what is safest for their wellbeing and have the ability to fly away if need be.

I push myself deeper into the corner where my bed meets two walls. I peck around, fluffing up pillows for protection around me. My mom is screaming at me. I did something, but I cannot remember. All I see is screaming faces and fingers trying to reach out and curl around me. I dig my claws deeper into my nest.

The American Crow is considered a threat and pest to farmers. Scarecrows are built up, towering over the fields to scare the black birds away. Starving and frightened, crows scurry away. They also stay close to where they breed in attempts to protect chicks. Nests are built to be about a foot or so big and a few meters high in the trees. They put protection above other needs.

My mom stomps away, a giant, shaking my home. Something is taken from my nest. Punishment for what I said. My phone is snatched away. Any gravity I have is taken. My wings are clipped, stunting me from finding safety. I sink to the floor in silence. I couldn’t hear anything, and my throat strained. I cry. The more I lift my head up, the more my throat closes. A force wraps itself around my lungs, making me breathe in unnatural ways. The faster I hyperventilate, the less air my body steals. My head spins with the fan above me. I wish it would snap and fall. Something to take this away. Everything in me screams to run. I desperately flap my wings and fail. My brother is a child peeking into my nest. His big and dark blue eyes stare. My vision is blurred as I crow in pain. He continues to stare like I am trapped behind a thick glass. I am a marvel to him; he is a child interested in something familiar. My body waits for him to “poke” me. Waiting for the child to do something  to see the bird act out. I grind my claws into the flat carpet. He turns away and into the hall.

I peck at my skin. Breathe. My claws scrape and gnash. Breathe. My hair is pulled, wrapped around these claws. Breathe. Still, I couldn’t breathe a single breath. I scurry and pick at my belongings. My nest becomes ruffled, a blanket of knick-knacks and books. Something to make me breathe. I look for a bird bath. A place to let the water drown me, to wash away this suffocation.

My naked body pressed the sides of the tub while water pelted me. Scalding water kissed my shoulders. I still couldn’t breathe. The water temperature increases and increases and increases. The feeling continues to stick onto my skin, like oil caked onto feathers. My nails claw up my arms and legs and down my hair. I pull and nip and pinch, but it is still there.

A bright shine catches my reflection. My bird brain wants to inspect and collect. I poke and prod the metal. My claws reach around, and I admire the razor. My head tilts to the side. It has about four blades lined up. Some hair clings to the corners, little specks of black.

I still couldn’t breathe, so the metal bit into my skin. My leg trembled as my lungs steadied. A relief flowed like red from my leg. I could breathe and I could think. A numb clarity filled my body. It reached into the crevices of the bathtub. The shower head aimed from above, raining on the small little gash.

I shook and flicked  water from my feathers. My beak nuzzled into the towel. My little crow-feet waddled down the hall and back into my nest. I picked around, making it just so.

I bandage the little cut.

My nest caves a little inward, blocking out the unknown and unfamiliar. My body breathes and sinks. I am a little crow, and one more scab forms onto my skin, ready to be plucked.

About the author

Jennifer Nabicht is a senior at Oklahoma State University. She is currently majoring in English with a focus in Creative Writing and involved in Omega Phi Alpha, a community service-based sorority. She wishes to expand her education and achieve a master’s degree in library science and Information Technology to become a librarian to help those in need gain access to resources. Jennifer also strives to write about the struggles of weight, mental illnesses, and grief. She is currently living in Stillwater, Oklahoma with her boyfriend, and her dog Kiwi.


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Frontier Mosaic Copyright © 2023 by Jennifer Nabicht is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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