C.O. JELLEMA

Translated by Paul Vincent

Young Crow

Those helpless movements of a plunderer-to-be:
the floundering of wings achieving only hopping.
A blackbird pair swarm round, eyes blinded by its shape,
its blackness and already sturdy beak, and so
at once protect and give away their nest.
And I, I could grab hold, then strangle it
so that next year it cannot violate a brood.
It is a – moment’s – thought that I chastise
within myself: our task can never be to sever
the life’s breath of any living thing. As Eckhart says:
each creature strives to live not die, plant, beast and man,
strives to rejoin what cancels all divisions, God.

But what or who is God, who dwells in obscure light.
Who is in all that is, yet mocks our understanding.
Beholding us in death but threatening with hope.
Odd musings these, upon a fledgling crow. It sits
now on a pile of chopped wood for the winter hearth,
stiff, like an orphan, turned in on itself. It seems
an angry idol thus, age-old. Why don’t I catch it?
(Who’ll catch me in my death, who’ll pick up my dead self
and eat it to survive: Who in deeds that we have
perpetrated challenges us to belief?) With one
fierce eye, this black innocence watches every step
I take, my demon there, ostensibly at rest.