The stagnant chill of windowless grey room cannot
be favorably compared to the keen ice of night.
The while we sit the days grow stale and pass us by
and glutinous clouds drip down from a wet rotting sky.
We ask, what could I do, could I have ever done
to dodge away from their putrescent touch and fly?
We ask, is there a palace somewhere in the air
where one can drink the burnt-out stars from a dark pool
and gain what they have lost, know oneself not a fool?
The breathless claustrophobic room answers us there:
if we expect the bone-white angels to descend
and give prescience, burning blood, a new white sun,
we must acknowledge what pretense ’tis to pretend,
to say that this has never really been our end,
to tell ourselves that we are not afraid to drown.
Does burning blood coagulate, or does it run?
We wish for such an angel to come spiral down—
the while shed scintillating sun-soaked scraps of down—
to sweep across the dying grass upon the down—
and elevate us with an imaginary crown.
But when we dream this we may hear the angels cry,
discover they are naught but birds, fall down, and die.
There is a problem we have set ourselves, which goes:
how can we disprove the existence of white crows?
Although no-one has seen one we can never know
whether it has just flown too swiftly for the eye.
And so we dream of flying on an unseen wing
not knowing pestilence and wanting but to sing.
Alas, the crow’s voice isn’t commonly considered
as sweet as others of its kind—is it embittered?
Like a soft scrap of shadow, dark against the light;
although, like other birds, to those below it seems
untroubled as the turning clouds, or as in dreams,
the crow despite its wings is still held by the gale
that shields our Terra from the cold, dark, vasty night.
The crow despite its wings is always subject to
the laws of earth, the ache of burning muscles where
it lifted itself from the ground, escaped the pale
of festering malignant ignorance for air.
Its dark heart aches for such a high blistering blue.
At last we ask what we’ve been thinking all the while:
why our so-happy crow’s beak was not made to smile.