This poem, written one winter when I was doing a lot of outdoor work, first appeared in Envoi magazine, no. 127. I was reading quite a lot of Ted Hughes at the time, too, and the great Welsh priest-poet, R. S. Thomas.
The crow is not itself
just as I am not myself alone –
some of me is stolen
by that shrewd, wheeling eye.
What do I look like in crow?
Dumb, slow, stumbler on a field
of plenty, just trouble enough
to keep an eye on.
It sits there on my fencepost,
careless that it contravenes the good of me.
Watching me, utterly
unafraid of me.
Watching me, my enemy.
Watching me as I pierce
the slopping, inert earth with my cross
and dress its stick arms with shredded sacks.
And it doesn’t caw or blink
as I settle on the upright pole a pumpkin
and on that a black, shapeless hat.
The light on the winter field fails.
The crow’s wings stretch out,
pass up through me
as I walk, unsteadily, home.
Leaving my scarecrow in the field.
Alone with the crow.