I was watching a pair of hooded crows perched on chicken wire that ran along the roof of a restaurant across the street. One of them stared into my room like it recognised me. I have seen a hooded crow much like this one hold down a starling and tear out its entrails. It kept that starling alive for as long as possible. Maybe it was a lesson to the others. ‘Tasty,’ the bigger of the two said. I blinked and asked if it was talking to me. My window was closed so it probably didn’t hear me, but I felt for sure it could lip read. For the next thirty-seven minutes, and without a word, the hooded crows took it in turns to fly to my windowsill and batter the glass. When they finished their clattering augury, they returned to the restaurant, spoke little about the day’s events, settled down for the long dark night, and promised not to mention my father again.
MARK RUSSELL’s poems have appeared recently in Poetry Wales, Wild Court, and Tears in the Fence. He won the 2020 Magma Poetry Judge’s Prize.