By Sue Proffitt

It’s only one letter.
Forget there’s no ‘r’ –
I read a story once: a parliament
of crows are assembled in a field.
In the middle, one crow. A ring
of judgement. A thousand black eyes
unwavering. What the sin, I don’t know,
but the crow was dead by morning –
a tatter of wet feathers in the grass.

We’ve never been placed in the centre,
the bull’s eye. But now the harbingers,
the judges, are amongst us.

It’s a rare thing but some have
seen it: in bright Summer light
a rook can turn white – pure white –
for an instant. The sky flexes, returns
the ordinary bird, grubbing.
The shape-shifters are here.
Look – it’s like a story –
just behind the glassy dark
of their eyes is our un-doing,

our re-making. Time to take stock:
see who we are
without flinching. Change.

Sue Proffitt: I live in South Devon. For me, writing poetry is central to my life and an exploration of the beauty and mystery of the more-than-human world, and of our complex human relationship with it. I have an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Bath Spa and have been published in a number of magazines and journals. My first collection, Open After Dark, was published by Oversteps in 2017. My second collection, The Lock-Picker, will be coming out late this year, published by Palewell Press. In 2018 I was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship.

My thoughts about the Covid phenomenon – it feels to me like the Earth is trying to redress the balance and find homeostasis again. As a species, we are seriously out of balance and our behaviour and disconnection from the living systems that sustain us is ultimately suicidal. The virus is very effective at putting us ‘back in our box’ and, also, holds a mirror up to us: in my view, we resemble a virus in many ways.  We are intelligent, capable of immense creativity and, at the moment, very destructive. The lockdown was an opportunity to be still, reflect and look inwards and to see how Earth thrives without us; if that isn’t a message for change, I don’t know what is.

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David Brehmer
David Brehmer
3 years ago

I like the juxtaposition of optimism within the seemingly arbitrary (as far as we know) and sometimes cruel mechanics of the natural world.

Hannah Hunt
Hannah Hunt
3 years ago

Nice to see the ref to the parliament of fowls. Good poem.

Poetry and Covid-19 ARCHIVE (This website archives the over 1000 poems submitted by over 600 poets, and viewed by over 100,000 from over 125 countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, June 2020-June 2021). Thank you to all who took part in the Poetry and Covid project.

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