“On Divination by Birds”

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.

poem by Kimberley Johnson, A Metaphorical God; via Verse Daily

painting: detail of St.Eulalia by John William Waterhouse


  1. #1 Virginia Burnett
    February 23, 2009

    Thank you for these two beautiful things today.

  2. #2 Mason Boyd
    February 27, 2009

    as a poet, I stay hard against my own and others work. Your poem is the exception to most of what I read. It soars in the mind like the mystery of the birds you write about. Thank you.

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