THE CROWS OF THE SULTAN'S PALACE
study passing tourists from tree and wall.
Harsh caws fall from sharp ivory beaks
like china plates flung to shiver against the stone walks.
One of the huge black birds, perched high on a tree limb,
half opens silver-grey wings and hops down a branch,
cocking his head to follow my passage with beady eyes,
then caws loudly,
"Awww, awwww, awwww!"
His ringing calls awaken in me some atavistic memory
and I visualize a battlefield a thousand years or more in the past,
perhaps the one the Crusaders called "The Field of Blood,"
sprawling under the callous rays of the Asiatic sun,
echoing with the faint voices of grievously wounded men
calling for water, for a companion,
for the mercy of death.
The weapons then were lance and broadsword and battle-axe,
great armored steeds trained to attack
with teeth and hooves.
I imagine the sobbing whinny of a crippled, riderless horse,
as it stumbles, white-eyed, reins dragging,
across the sandy terrain.
I see ravens dropping to the ground by the side of a distant form,
a feeble hand raised vainly to thrust them away,
as the mocking cries of the grey-winged crows
continue to beat in my ears ---
"Awwww! Awwww! Awwww!"