The Visitor

Three times the crow has cawed

At the window baleful eyes fixed

On mine, wings slightly raised

In sinister poise, body tense

And neck craned like a nagging woman’s

Filling the room with voice and presence


Three times I got the message,

Sleep-walking on the air of thought

With muddy clothes and floated down,

concerned for all created things,

To cope with the visitor,

Whose terms would compromise my own.


All day I waited, as befits

The folk belief that following

The crow a visitor would come,

An angel in disguise, perhaps

Or else temptation in unlikely shape

To test my promises, ruin my sleep.


It was not like that at all,

His hands were empty, his need :

Only to kill a little time.

Between his good intentions

and my sympathy, the cigarette smoke

was more substantial than our talk.


I see how wrong I was

Not to foresee precisely this :

Outside the miracles of mind,

The figure in the carpet blazing,

Ebb-flow of sex and the seasons,

The ordinaries of most events.

-Nissim Ezekiel






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