Some recent feathers

………………………….scattered over rice fields,
………………………….a thousand crows load up on stones
………………………….then lumber nestward

Crows figure frequently in my poetry, need I say? Smart birds, in their way. Humans have had a long love/hate relationship with them. Unlike dogs, with whom homo sapiens has had an equally long and mostly loving relationship, with crows there is linked to the dislike a kind of admiration, or certainly curiosity. Sitting and watching them go about their business provides ample fruit for the poet. Where I live, just behind Shimogamo Shrine, from early morn I am “blessed” or tested with their presence and caws. About twice a year, or less, hundreds gather in the very high sky to discuss something or other. Diving, circling, soaring, crying: for a couple hours the conference continues, until the day begins to draw to its close, and the discussion calms down. What a performance! I never tire of it.

………………………………………………….early autumn dusk
………………………………………………….black on black, I listen to
………………………………………………….caws invisible
……………………………against a golden dusk
……………………………a black cloak of crows
……………………………aims towards the eastern hills

“Crows generally live 30 years,” instructed the doctor at the zoo rehabilitation center. He advised against having a crow as a pet, because it would probably outlive its owner. Being released into the wild, as it were, it would be swiftly killed by other crows. On this nature note,  I once witnessed the ducks on the Kamo River attacking a newly-arrived duck, ganging up and striking it with their beaks. Eventually it sank into the water. Mother Nature at work. Don’t ya just love it?

5 Responses to “Some recent feathers”

  1. You talk of crows. From today, a true story …

    Woodcutters’ camp –
    My pack of thin mint biscuits
    Pillaged
    By the Ogura crows!

  2. John Dougill Says:

    a black cloak of crows is felicitous…

    I live near Shimogamo Shrine too and am likewise much taken with crows. One landed on my veranda a while ago and made an awful din cawing. Was it a croak of joy or a general announcement to the world at large, I couldn’t help wondering? You can easily understand why these vociferous birds spoke to shamans of other worlds, and why the sun goddess herself sent a three-legged messenger to earth…

    Caw, caw, caaaaaawww…
    The early morning messenger
    Speaks of winter

  3. Nobuyuki Yuasa Says:

    I saw a television progaram about an old man in Tokyo who feeds crows in his garden and leaves some food for them in a shrine forest. This lures thousands of crows to his area and his neighbours are victimized, for crows drop on their laundry, wake them up before dawn, attack them to rob some food from their shopping basket. Why cannot we leave the crows alone? Police tells this old man not to feed the crows, his neighbours entreat him to stop, but he goes out after dark to the shirne forest to leave food for the crows! Why do we have so many crows in big cities now? Simply because we do not take care of our garbage! Basho describes a single corw sitting on a bare branch. Here the crow is a symbol of death, I believe. The increase of crows in big cities is a symbol of natural destruction. Nature is losing its balance. Someday, the crows will be the lord of the earth. They have already killed kites or chased them away. Crow’s intelligence is admirable, I sdmit. I saw a crow dropping a nut on the road to have it cracked by a car. But their intelligence is of a kind that has brought about the recent economic crisis! As our traditonal songs says, No sonner than a farmer plants seeds, crows come along and pick them up. I enjoyed reading your haibun, but I am afraid I do not share your kind feelinhg about crows.

  4. 30 years! I had no idea.

    “A black cloak of crows” is so visually vivid, and at the same time has such a great sound.

    And in light of Nobuyuki Yuasa’s comment, it’s all the more sinister to imagine each of a thousand crows flying with a stone.

  5. Whenever I see crows plotting, or staking out some neighborhood in Japan, I immediately think of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), which I saw as a child on a Saturday night. The symbol of death and destruction always has me moving cautiously around it, and occasionally looking over my shoulder if I should hear its caw returned….

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