Crows in the Wind

Hooded Crow: Corvus cornix

On windy days the crows cavort
Down slides of air for autumn sport.
They dive and spiral, twirl and spin,
Then levitate to ride again.

That wind that makes their airy slide
Comes tumbling down the mountainside,
Tousles the heads of trees and drops
To the sea beyond the cypress tops,

And drinking at the sea’s blue lips
Makes paper sailboats out of ships,
Whose distant swiftness seems repose
Compared to capers of the crows.

Their calligraphic loops concur
In copperplate of signature,
Or in formation they prepare,
Drilling at dogfights with thin air.

Watching them, I want to say
They are intelligence at play
And in their breath-defying flight,
Daredevils of a deep delight.

Of course, who would not rather be
An aerobat of ecstasy?
But it takes grounding to observe
Their every barrel roll and swerve

Against the sky, the way their skill
Makes the unseen visible
With two unlikely forces twinned:
Their turn of mind, the wanton wind.

The Younger Memnon

Colossal Head of Ramses II – in Greek known as Ozymandias – brought to England in 1818

Plunked down on the museum bench to rest
I glanced up: no cold sneer, no wrinkled lip;
Instead, his full mouth’s upturned corners smiled,
His visage, young; eyes, lowered towards me, mild.
I saw the hole punched through his naked chest
As if he had been shot – and by which, chained
Or roped, he’d been dragged from the body’s throne.
I saw him pulled on rollers to the ship
So he might reign here, alien, alone.
While on the pedestal, one photo shows
A headless trunk, his twin’s head on the sand,
A doctored image there seems to propose
The whole intact, as though it still remained.
(I met a traveller from an antique land.)

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