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