The Crow's Demise

I didn’t see it die but keep an eye

on its death – untouchable, unknowable

I cannot stop to contemplate its black confusion

while caught in pedestrian currents. Wings broken

by mysterious throes, spread in silent shock

I track its stillness, head turned down as if

to hide a fall from grace. It – I want to say you –

catch my sorry eye as the homeless do.


ii

What world of quick undoing is at work

beneath your oily shroud of plumage?

Your span stuck in hopeless flight, finally

beaten by gravity. And if I’m not mistaken

you’ve moved. A curious cat or child?

You’ve been taken down by circumstance

to suffer the indignity of daylight robbery.

This morning I showed you to my partner.


iii

You are, at least, at rest, beside something

we call beautiful: a humble tribute to the Trevi

which in these coldest months is quiet, empty.

Neptune’s white cohort waits for warmth, waits

for a sign to take up water again. Maybe you

drank from there when you were one of the living

& stood in contrast to the scene: loud, crowded

but safely inanimate. Now only broken glass & leaves.


iv

The breeze reaches a wing, moves feathers nostalgic.

Why is it I’m more interested in your death?

While there is much I’ve missed, I’ve witnessed this

the very thing we’re blessed & cursed to know:

one body in the face of nature’s faultless pace;

one bird, one grave patch of grass that before my eyes

will always bear your final changes. Appearances

will fall, the shroud be done & death’s last act remain.


v

Remains. This is all that’s left of you. Bones

empty of all that was used for a vital end, your brittle

frame a cage picked dry by the things you ate.

The only direction you have left to go is

down, stuck sinking into insignificance &

down through the town’s underbelly &

down so far from any of this I

cannot follow.