The smartest man I know is dying –
cancer, spreading to his bones
and cruelly, to his brain.
"Come look back here," he says when I visit.
"They knew even before I did."
Six ravens walk – stately, slow, with purpose –
across his yard, an avian funeral cortège.
"They've been here since spring," he adds.
He points to a corner near the fence.
"That one has a broken wing.
Got it robbing a blue jay's nest.
Shouldn't mess with jays, I told her.”
He feeds her raw chicken and steak but says he knows
that soon she'll ask for death, and he'll oblige.
"They won't do the same for me," he says.
I don't know what to say.
"When she's gone, her fellows will have
a feast of her carcass,” he says without malice,
“just as they will with mine."
I try to protest, but I know it's true.
Already there's talk that his research is passé.
At lunch, I see my own reflection in a soup spoon.