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A couple of weeks into the Great Lockdown –

robins nesting in the ivy, wild bees

in the eaves, as usual – we were

visited one day by a carrion crow,

its feathers of a blackness beyond

perfection, clinkered armour buffed bright.

It landed, the size of a large cat,

on our modest bird bath beside the lilies

beginning to burgeon. In its beak

was a portion-sized piece of baguette

or ciabatta, which it dropped in the water,

then flew off. At intervals it returned,

snacked on the softening bread, and left.


For a week and more it had the same routine

each day – and then never appeared again.

Maybe its local supply of hard, stale crusts

closed down – or it discovered a bakery

careless with fresh products. Its curious

visits, though fascinating, held a threat.

What if it’s ‘caw, caw’ were merely cover,

and, when it rejoined its muster, it said,

‘Comrades, here’s an end to waiting for the crumbs!’

or, alternatively, ‘Colleagues, regarding

the dry bread problem, I have a proposal…’?

I imagined an Hitchcockian horde

darkening our skies, murdering paradise.





© Copyright David Selzer
5 Responses
  • Kate Harrison
    July 24, 2020

    Moves bird table further from the house . . .

    We had bees in the eaves as well. That whole ‘the birds and the bees’ thing? It was just bees and bees.

  • Ashen Venema
    July 24, 2020

    Clever crow. Some animals, who kept their distance from humans, have responded to the reduction of people traffic. In my area foxes expanded their territory, including my gardens. It does give rise to the imagination.

  • David Selzer
    July 24, 2020

    It’s as well perhaps other animals are not be able to pass on this sort of very specific learning to their fellows.

  • Tim Ellis
    July 24, 2020

    A poem pregnant with premonition, although I must say I quite like crows myself!

  • Jeff Teasdale
    July 27, 2020

    Yes, wily, beady-eyed, intelligent birds always on the lookout for the main chance. Have you read Jim Perrin’s accounts of the birds around Harlech? As in your poem, David, he has a deep insight into the habits of long-observed magpies and jays (and other birds) around his garden. Also, Ted Hughes’ book ‘Crow’, to which I was originally attracted by the stunningly original illustrations, but was then drawn in by the poetry. A wonderful collection. Note: if anyone reading this still has my signed copy of ‘Crow’, I’d like it back please…..Some hope!

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