In the early evening, the light touching
only the tops of the buildings,
I lie in the shadows and watch
three crows flickering on and off
as they cross the sunlit sky.
Each is a single point oscillating
along the whole length of the sky.
They are high up. They open
and close their wings high up.
Three crows is three black stitches,
stitching and unstitching. Three crows
is a number I can make into meaning.
Then they have crossed, and are gone.
Three new points appear
from the other side, and cross,
as if a reiteration of one idea.
Then one alone, then three, then seven
swells to a numberless flock of points.
Some of the birds fly lower,
appear as fully two wings, a head, the stiff fan
of tailfeathers spread against the quivering air.
They pass from left to right, folding
and unfolding their bird shapes
as if they were the shadows of the birds
flying above them. They come and come
until I no longer expect
anything else or see the birds that one
by one appear and disappear,
one edge giving as the other obliterates
and does not change the shape of the whole.
Until it ends, or pauses,
and the sky becomes, in a moment, deep and