Two Crows Make A Zodiac
Winters at white dawn, before the first gaudy ransack of a
scold of jays, two crows come to her feeding cup.
They have no elfish hands to hold interwoven as otters
do, to keep each other close on cold waters, but still
they float down on air as joint motif. Not one crow,
but two, for in any functional lexicon, the complete set
of meaningful units is not one. They eat a dozen peanuts
with the focus she applies eating her mistakes, but with
their own goblin squawk and savoring, a black-suited pair
laughing like undertakers on holiday, the charm of a child's
toys in their round eyes as they celebrate this meal,so much
more efficient than pecking through reticulated rubbish, so
much quicker than sieving crushed bladders or hearts tarry from
asphalt, than abrupt blare-interrupted flutters on the flat luck
of skunk or raccoon, where they must thrust their razor beaks
like needles through black blood glitter, scrape hard bone
clean to sew lost life from ruined flesh to full feathers. They
are complete either way, but the woman has made it easier.
Two crows make their own zodiac, seven stars make Orion,
the time-twisted woman who sets out peanuts
makes a pageant in vapor, a blood-let of generosity,
a late arrival at sufficiency; for in any functional lexicon,
the complete set of meaningful units
is not one.
Shay's Word List #11:
This poem makes no attempt to capture Hughes' style or Hughes' own vision of
Crow and his journeys, that epic exploration of folk-tale and myth which rewards the
reader's time with much more content and flourish than I could ever hope
But when I think of Hughes, I think of Crow, and so, this poem.
Note: For those interested, here is some background on Hughes' collection of poems exploring Crow:
After his wife Sylvia Plath's suicide, Hughes wrote nothing for three years. Then he began a work which was finally published as
Crow:from the Life and Songs of Crow. As stated by the Ted Hughes Society, it "holds a uniquely important place in Hughes oeuvre. It heralds
the ambitious second phase of his work, lasting roughly from the late
sixties to the late seventies, when he turned from direct engagement
with the natural world to unified mythical narratives and sequences. It
was his most controversial work: a stylistic experiment which abandoned
many of the attractive features of his earlier work, and an ideological
challenge to both Christianity and humanism..He looked back on the years of work on Crow as a time of imaginative freedom and creative energy, which he felt that he never subsequently recovered...."
Images: Crows in Winter, © N.C. Wyeth Fair Use
Detail from Crow's Song © Andrea Kowch generously accessible at her website Andrea Kowch Studios Blog where you can and should see the entire painting. Fair Use