May 1, 2015

Cecilia Soprano: Nonfiction & Visual Art "Lincoln The Crow"

Cecilia Soprano lives in Westchester County and makes her living as an organic gardener and artist.   Her poems and artwork have been published in La Joie magazine and UC at Santa Barbara among others.  Her artwork is often featured on the covers of Inner Directions magazine.

She is a member of the Greenwich Art Society and the Katonah Museum Art Association.  She has published three small books and has had several one woman art exhibits.  Her love of nature and gardening provides the space for uninterrupted inspiration.  Her intention is to make images and words that describe beauty and uplift the human spirit.   My art is about making the simple sacred and the ordinary extra-ordinary.

"The reason why we exist is to remember why we exist and to realize our interconnectedness with all things."    WEBSITE: or

 Lincoln The Crow--April 16, 2015
      When I was thirty I worked in a big organic garden in Connecticut.
One Spring a friend of mine found a young fledgling crow that had fallen from his nest and hurt his wing.  He asked me to take care of him because his lifestyle and schedule didn’t allow him time to raise the bird. I took the crow to work with me in the enclosed garden where he would be safe and still have two acres to roam.
      I soon discovered that he had a wonderful sense of humor.  After lunch I would lay on the ground and within minutes he would hop onto my chest and proceed to walk up  and down my body stopping to peck at each button on my shirt, then my belt buckle and eventually my shoelaces.  He was totally focused on finding the hidden treasures on my clothes.  He would work the buttons for minutes at a time trying to pull them off.  Feeling his animated feet and beak touching me gave me a sense of bonding to this strange and bossy creature.  I was charmed.
"Crow Brings Down The Sun" ©Cecilia Soprano
       He had a way of demanding to be close by following us everywhere when we were planting or weeding, so we took turns letting him ride on our shoulders while we worked.  Having a wild creature on my shoulder I would often pause to look at him. When he saw me turn my head he would do the same and look at me.  With his beak inches from my eyes, his look was so piercing I felt uneasy knowing he could easily blind me with one peck. Later I realized that what he was seeing in my eyes, was his own reflection.    
      My sister and I were living together on a big estate. She named the crow Lincoln because we imagined his dark feathers were fitted opera clothes that matched his angular features. We enjoyed feeding him just about everything from cat food to popcorn and worms.
He made raspy gargling noises while flapping his wings to get us to notice his state of hunger and submit to his needs. In other words, he had to have first dibs of whatever we were enjoying at all our meals …and in between.      
     When his wing healed, Lincoln would follow me flying through the tree tops as I jogged along the road for my afternoon run. At the half-way point I would cut across a large field and he would fly down and join me on my shoulder.  Once a horse rider who had been observing us, rode over to me. “Are you some kind of a saint St. Frances type that birds fly out of trees to follow you?" she asked.
       Whenever I called "Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln!" he would soar down out of the sky to land on me.  He showed almost human affection greeting me by snuggling close to my cheek while nibbling on my earrings and pushing his beak into my hair gently tugging and tucking my locks.
There is nothing that compares to the sensation of a feathered caress and kiss.
       Lincoln often boldly sat on the scarecrow we had constructed in the garden.  It had a tinplate face and wore a straw-stuffed white shirt.   He would sit on the outspread arms and cackle and caw at any movement, daring anyone to come and "face the foe." While we toiled, he had the time of his life; eating, commenting, and pooping all over the scarecrow.
In August, when the corn was maturing, I would walk between the rows opening the silk to check the size of the kernels at the tips to see if they were ready for picking. He would be riding my shoulder and timed it just right – as I parted the silk he leaned forward and jabbed his beak into the fresh kernels for a quick juicy bite ...  I would scream, "Lincoln, No!" but it made no difference, he was our self- appointed corn sampler.
      Adolescence turned him into a real bad-boy character, and he took up stealing.  When we tried to retrieve the package of labels or bottle top in his beak, he would love the thrill of our chase.  Urged on by our fury and frustration, he would run on his skinny black legs to hide behind the nearest tree chortling and muttering crow curses at us under his breath. I could never catch him.
     Another time, I had just finished planting a long row of lettuce seedlings.  When I turned to look behind me to check the work, I saw each small lettuce laying flat, withered in the sun.  He had been behind me the entire time quietly, methodically, ripping each one out. I jumped to my feet shaking the trowel at him, while he went careening down the row half-running, half-flying with a lettuce root dangling from his beak.  Once again he was gleeful having outsmarted the Human, enjoying his game of getting away with it....
     One day in late October, he flew away and didn't return.   I guess he realized he was
a bird after all, and instinct drew him to follow his own kind.  We missed him for months afterwards. As the winter season progressed I searched his favorite perches.  During my walks or runs, I watched for crows.  When I saw them looking down at me from tree or sky, I found myself calling for him...."Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln." 

Crow Scratch ©Cecilia Soprano

~Cecilia Soprano

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