The Fourth Craw
                         i.m. Roy Fisher

I am driving the Jacobite army north from Derby.

Three craws sat upon a wa  

You can go there if
you want, into that past,  
all banners and ballads,   

and lie in its grievance
shaped to a vacancy.
I remember the trampling

of the flag, and a horse,
legs gone, catching
its tail as it fell. 

The first craw was greetin fer his maw

Assigning legs and arms
to this or that body
among the tangle

balletic tableau

I watched the sun-
light cross the valley

implacable but gilding
our profiles fondly

as we took flight.

The second craw fell and broke his jaw

Living that high up
said the woman in the courtyard

holding my reins and  
gesturing over the hills

anywhere else must
feel like a come-down

so many worlds 
of patient neglect

stored up for our
return and whose

won’t come cheap.

The third craw couldna flee awa

Following by night
the ginnels and shambles of Leeds

as though a blind man should trace
with his fingers the features

of a child’s face
we came to the North

good enough to have
stayed where we left it

And the fourth craw wasna there at aa

the ways closed over
behind us and all manner

of joyous lament finding
its proper dark at last.




[David Wheatley’s The President of Planet Earth will be published in autumn 2017 by Carcanet.]

Copyright © 2017 by David Wheatley, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.