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.