I look out at an old crow on a wire.
He shifts and shits, then settles – just like that.
I watch with envy his unthinking balance,
the jade and sunset amber of his eye
a bead containing everything that’s needful.
He shakes his crop a little: then he’s gone,
the line not even stirred. I turn and move
back inside, to contemplate a world
of traffic meaningless as Roman legions,
a world whole once, before you moved across
my line of vision. Now, like Baudelaire,
I rail against the sweetness of sick love
as if it made a difference. Evening thickens
like dying light in rubies, day and night
in perfect balance elsewhere, while within,
an empty screen, a dolphin paperweight,
embers in a dead house by the sea;
The comfort of a repetitious danger.
Beyond the roof, dead roads, unwanted spaces,
a mighty falling off from childish dreams,
an ancient bakery floor, its Moorish tiles
open like Jesus to the elements;
the only hint of red, the sense of evening
bleeding from the canning factory floor.
Vows, perfumes, kisses. Shut each lingering blind,
one window left alone, a half-meant prayer.
Stretch before an unlit, waiting fire,
lost in the waking dream of other cities,
rising heat on pavements after rain,
old men content, their tales of war now vague
as a far chime over traffic; gilded domes,
shields and copper coats of arms on shopfronts,
that medieval faith articulated
lulling to belief in one whole day,
a glimpse, a fleeting visit, distant hope
in nothing but its saving power, its grace
when all else crumbles and no holding out
can dam or stem the pain. Rough beaks will tear,
machines will shatter pavements. Yet repose
exists: in inner-city graveyards, in the breath
of an old page being turned: vows, kisses, call
of birds at dawn, to build, to kill, to cure;
in the unknowable, that moment lost,
that unseen dust that wraps the sun in amber,
beyond our reach, beyond the reach of love.