Whether the same crow as last year has returned
or this is a different crow with the same habits
is as much a metaphysical issue
as a zoological one – whichever
is the case the sequence of events
in the Great Lockdown is being repeated.
Early morning the crow flies in, and places
a piece of bread in the bird bath – where blackbirds
have bathed, and robins sipped; flies off; returns
in hours, and snacks on the marinated bread;
flies off; returns, and so on until
the starchy carrion has all gone.
Last year baguettes were preferred – this year crusts
with butter and strawberry jam. I watch,
from the kitchen window, the creature
gripping the edge of the diminutive
bird bath – not a sable, obsidian
feather out of place, its neolithic beak
supping fastidiously. We thrive
on patterns me and the crow – it snacking
on throwaways, me making nine, ten,
eleven beats to the line. So is this,
perhaps, some prank from beyond the grave – Ted
Hughes’s Crow mocking my orderly verses?
Or a hoax – the black spot posing as white bread?
When I inspect this morning’s dunking –
a triangular piece of garlic bread –
the crow, on a nearby chimney, sets up
such a cawing one would think, in the words
of the old saw, the world was about to end:
when we may perish from surfeit, or from
puzzlement, when earth, air, water are
consumed with plastic particulates,
and small family groups in unnamed deserts
defend their pots of fire?