A Raven in my Sleep
The caw sounded the moment I caught sight
of a deep blackness outside the window.
I was seated at a desk in a classroom
the blackboard’s thin white letters spelling out
the pointless exposition of insideness.
The dark shape configured itself into
outstretching wings, lifting the black body
off from the high hawthorn hedge and sailing
through the open window, lightly raising
and alighting on my slight shoulder’s perch.
Talons puckering the skin of my blade
with just enough pressure to let me know
that they were fitted to tear flesh with ease,
releasing again, a sign of tender
invitation to impending friendship.
Then the weight of the bird’s body pressing
down on me for propulsion, ascending,
dismissing the airless room, my body
thrumming with the sense of absence; raising
my conviction that I should follow it.
I am now in the disquiet of following
there are times the Raven is just ahead
and I can hear his raucous caw and see
the trail of quilled, silken darkness he leaves
ahead on the path as unlit waymarks.
His fierce eye piercing me for some time
creating in me an awe of the darkness,
the way it helps me shed the sacks of light
I keep stored to stave off my dread of the
dusk and dimness that evening brings on.
This egregious comrade lives on carrion
the detritus of the battles I fight,
the physicality of aftermath,
consuming creature, opportunistic,
bellicose in iridescent raiment.
His flight path across the field, settling
on the dry-stone wall just ahead of me,
his movements a tenebrous alphabet,
the steps of a sloe black caliginous dance
his lurching sweep and his staccato steps.
The ubiquity of Ravens always with
me now, no escape for my anxious heart,
all its fears enumerating themselves,
their ungenerosity familiar,
gathering around, their dark eyes glinting.
But this bombazine flock are truth bearers
and require my same heart to shape itself
in an upsurge of nerve, born of terror,
of that scavenging moment of lack, that
acceptance of my true unfinishedness.
Those who allow shadows to loom over
those unfeasible optimisms we spend
so much time chasing, are initiated
into the congress of Ravens, a gathered
unkindness that quickly uncossets them.
Shadowing the unilluminated
vagrancy that is the Raven’s flight path,
slowly accepting in my life’s last years,
to be a novice of the twilight as
I was once a new-born glimmer of dawn.