Before the Crows Disappeared

Before the crows disappeared
a bent old man had been spotted
loitering in the town square
He scribbled in his notebook
as he squinted
and counted the birds high up on the castle wall

When he got to twelve
he glanced down again, shuddered
realizing he’d spelt out the words of a long forgotten curse

We all held our breath when the cat pounced
we knew that eleven had been bad
but ten would be worse

People started locking their doors at night
after they saw black feathers on the bench that Tuesday

Anna,seeking distraction
pulled the baker’s son behind the war memorial
they didn’t think anyone was looking
as they kissed goodbye to another shiny corvid soul

But the paper girl had been spying on them
and broadcast the news, spraying secrets
alongside her broadsheet deliveries,
as seven small shadows lengthened
on the road in the blazing afternoon sun

Precious metals, precious lives.
Two more down with the quick and innocent exchange
of rings in the church as the clock struck 4
and two more bite the dust as the rose petals fly and fall.

Jacks’s got a smile while Jill cries and the last bird falls.

Now we can’t even call it murder.


Katie Whitehouse May 2020