for Ashen Venema
Walking back to the house from the composter
one late afternoon in early autumn
I looked up, and stopped. There was a roseate,
mackerel sky moving from North East Wales
over the Cheshire Plain towards the Pennines,
and drifting above me. Whatever weather
it presaged, it was ordinarily
lovely, a mundane epiphany.
At the kitchen door I turned and there
was a raven on the paving where I had been,
that frequenter of uplands, and slaughter.
I thought of Lawrence and the snake and waited.
The bird was in profile twenty feet away –
immense, and sleek, and dark as anthracite.
I saw, beyond the bird, our neighbour’s’ cat
approaching in stalking mode. The raven,
opening its wings unhurriedly,
rose into the sky with its mocking
call like a witch’s laugh.