Category Archives: Excerpts

Crow poems

A poem found within the pages of the beautiful and compact prose pieces of Creaturely and Other Essays, by Devin Johnston. The poem “Crows in Afternoon Sunlight,” however, comes from the Australian poet Robert Adamson. Of Adamson, the following has been said.

Robert Adamson is one of the truly great poets of place and deep meditation. […] From Bob Dylan to Wallace Stevens, from Arthur Rimbaud to Gerard Manley Hopkins, from Shelley to Zukovsky, Adamson winds a path through the abyssal forest of symbols to the natural world, driving Symbolism over the edge into the darkness of a nihilism still able to experience, praise, savour and celebrate the world in all its impossibility and presence.

“Crows in Afternoon sunlight” does indeed wind.

How close can a human get to a crow,
how much do we know about them?
It’s good to know we’ll never read their brains,
never know what it means to be a crow.

All those crow poems are about poets —
none of them get inside the crow’s head,
preen or rustle, let alone fly on crow wings.

No one knows what it is to sing crow song.

Five crows hop and stand around
the fish I have left for them on the wharf.
If I move their eyes follow me, I stand still
and they pick up a fish, test its weight.

They ruffle their feather manes and shine.

These black bird shapes outlined by the light.
Behind them, the river flowing out,
the light changing, soon it will be night

and they will be gone. Before that
I praise crows.


Select notes from a season of nature observations/associations

Some raw thought, February–April 2010.

February 2, 2010

This noise, this natural static, surrounds me as a walk past a yellow gate, past the trespassing signs, into a space riddled with similar steps in the thin fresh snow. My feet join the sound and images of what were sounds upon contact. Each step is interesting and the faint crunch I hear makes me conscious of my position along the road, a transect through the woods.

February 16, 2010

Snowflakes are a microcosm of the cosmos in the clouds above. Frozen ice crystals formulate into shape as droplets of cloud freeze. Each then could be said to encompass that cloud, the conditions in the air and sky, which are reflected down into our domain and subject to our vision. The clouds, themselves visible conglomerations of these drops of water, are birthed through the vapors from the earth’s surface. And as such, the elements of our ecology are drawn up and returned in frozen form.

What exists in a particle of water? Frozen, does one stand as its own history isolated in time? Microscopists of the 17th and 18th century looked at water in such a way. The entire complexity of the universe could be seen within one droplet. As Thoreau’s pickerel was to the pond of Walden, one orb of liquid held the same degree of life, mystery, and the hand of the Divine as the naturalist saw in the forest or sea. Scale itself was an insignificant indicator of the world’s intricacy. Continue reading