Elegy for a Dead Crow

He found it at the roadside, one wing upraised like a flag of surrender. A crow, dead, but still intact, its body glowing in the amber streetlight.

Elegy for a Dead Crow

The Dead Body

Did you wash the dead body
Did you close both its eyes
Did you bury the body
Did you leave it abandoned
Did you kiss the dead body


He found it at the roadside, one wing upraised like a flag of surrender. A crow, dead, but still intact, its body glowing in the amber streetlight. Its black eyes caught the glow and held it, like a dying star. The wind picked up and caught the wing, separating the feathers a little. There were no cars and the night was quiet.

He wanted to touch it. It looked as though it could awaken, save for the stillness of its rigid frame, its legs cocktail sticks. Normally, he was afraid of dead things, afraid of the rot and the taint of decay, but now he could not tear himself away from the crow.

The night changed things. For everything it obscured, it brought something before unseen forth. He became attuned to the furtive nosings of foxes, the rustle of their snouts amidst rubbish. He'd see bats as beads of black thread through the sky on threads so fine as to be invisible. Light had to fight hard here; it could be found skulking in underpasses and weeping in windows. Light's ostentation was now become shame; it stayed liminally luminous.

This crow was the night. Its deadness made it seem blacker, for its eye's lack of life made it absorb all light. A black hole, he thought.

He reached out again. This time, he curled his fingers beneath the crow, daring himself to cup it within his hands and lift it. He wanted to pick it up and hold it close to his chest like a baby. He curled his fingers, then pulled them away. A car thrummed by, jolting him alert and ruffling the bird's feathers. And in that moment the bird seemed so fragile; the big metal car seemed monstrous and brutal to him. So he scooped the crow up and held it close, and went home cradling it.

To have done with the judgement of God

'... cramped into a planisphere ...'

— Marvell

Do not judge the boy. He's just communicating, in his own way. Don't think that what he's doing is silent. No, it is a scream, a scream as violent and emetic and excoriating as Artaud's. The jelly-eyed thrashing of the madman, brain cooking, heart frying. In the scream we are positioned in that liminal space between life and death, creation and destruction. To scream is to defy death, to wave a flag for a life still worth living. The scream says, there is more to life than cosy, medicated, bovine sanity. There is innocence in madness. The boy carries the crow home in state. Honour.

The boy will love the crow, in all its mangled rottenness, so much that it will come back to life. A transvaluation of all values will take place. Primal sound will become the language of highest art. The madman speaks sense; the wise man jabbers like a baby.

All art is trash.

Veni, creator spiritus

When you will have made him a body without organs,
then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions
and restored him to his true freedom

— Artaud

The crow judders to life. But if you were to crack it open, you would find nothing but empty space. A body without organs. You could step inside the infinity of that space and wave your hands as everything that has ever been said or done wafts before your eyes. You are removed finally from any concerns of yourself and experience only the lives of others. There is nothing you cannot see and nothing you cannot do. Do you find meaning? You have infinity to see, and infinity to see it in.

The boy does not hesitate to step into the crow's infinite chest-cavity. He feels, distant, the throbbing of its small bird heart. And, as he sets out to explore everything there ever was and can be, he smiles. He does not scream.

Why would he? He is Life.