The Crow

As soon as the crow arrived the little birds fled, flitting on jagged trajectories out over the fields beyond the garden. The crow seemed not to notice this flurry of activity. It settled on a fence post near the apple tree, puffed its feathers and smoothed them again. I knocked on the kitchen window. ‘Shoo, hey, go on.’ I wanted the little birds back, not this… this mod, sleek, black and menacing, loitering at the end of my garden. But the crow took no notice. I tidied away supper and set the kettle for a late coffee. When I looked out of the window again the crow was still there.  It had started to preen, tapping and sliding its beak over the soft feathers on its breast. As if to sanction this cocksure behaviour, the setting sun dipped below the clouds and bathed both garden and bird in a peachy glow. I went outside, ostensibly to scrape the muck off my boots, which I did noisily and enthusiastically. As I worked the sun disappeared behind a copse of pine trees. The light faded. The crow did not move. I went back inside, throwing the pristine boots into the far corner of the porch. After dark I drew all the curtains, leaving the kitchen window till last. I cupped a hand against the glass and peered out. Silhouettes hung under the grey haze of the garden, and I thought I could make out a black ball perched on the black stalk of the fence post. The crow seemed to belong there now, in the colourless gloom where colour, light and even movement seemed as wrong as its own black passivity had seemed before, among the frantically alive little birds. I went to bed, half hoping to see the crow again in the morning.