On the Duties of Being Carbon

Stephen Pyle

Up above a crow afraid to land,

Who in dying circles grassless heavens

Where cumulus wets stones ever trusted.


Her muttered caw heard, and talons

Flexing, her ceaseless wheeling over

stones that wait, grass, and sprig hawthorn.


Thin branch elect, to bear the weight,

on the stroke of the plummet, crow made fist,

in acceleration, balled.


For a moment

To thorn and crow both rewarded

Exhilaration, to thorn surprise and


Crow the expiration, and wash

of sea waves brine green and curling,

clacking stones to a primal rhythm,


Known to birds and boys who, in

Hypodermal waiting lines faint, or to those doubled

Over a ship’s rail, one prayed and promised to.