I don’t need that black
wind of crows kicking up from flax to tell
heavy weather coming, white days to drop
barricades across the interstate,
against two hundred miles of trackless white.
(The crows so obvious then against the miles
of trackless white!) More tricky the magpies
flicker and croak at the sunken carcass
of a roadkill deer, raveling with beaks
the rubbery guts, picking gravel
from scant meat: there must be in their turn-taking
some pattern, some elegant design
beyond need, something in the raw trouble
of jays, the ragged braying geese flown south.
I gaze at their weightless wingbeats daylong
working to discern whether V might stand
for valediction, or vigilance, or
the blank indifference of velocity.
painting: detail of St.Eulalia by John William Waterhouse