Black crows flying
over white mist
through which loom
blurry shapes of trees
Cold October dawn
bathroom window condensation streaked
Crows cackle and fight
on the rooftops
Sun lightens the sky
the mist thins.
I found I had to make several attempts at writing such a simple poem and was conscious that I kept putting it off until I could find the time to go outside and sit and observe. I write most of my poems on the hoof while I’m supposed to be busy doing something else. This type of poem felt like it needed the care you’d give to an oil painting rather than a quick charcoal sketch.
I discarded my first couple of efforts; one about trees and one about my garden. They were too flat and entirely visual without evoking any of the other senses.
The black crows poem was written on Sunday morning before anyone else in the house was awake. It also relies a lot on sight as I wanted the reader to be able to picture the monochromatic scene which I could see from my bathroom window. The first version was much longer as I still tend to write in sentences. Each time I went back to the poem I spotted another word which I could take out.
The third stanza was originally the first but I decided it was better to start with the crows rather than the viewpoint. I’m still not happy with the line ‘bathroom window condensation streaked’. It feels too long but is a lot shorter than the original ‘streaks the bathroom window with condensation’. Less is always more in poetry.
The poem does make use of sight, sound and touch (in the cold and condensation) although smell is entirely absent as it was from the scene I was observing.
There is nothing specific to Wing in the poem but I decided not to worry about that there is nothing particular to Nantucket in WCW’s poem of that title.
Alice Oswald at the BBC
13 hours ago