NaPoWriMo 2015.1: “Sat Like a Cormorant, Yet Not”

"Thence up he flew, and on the Tree of Life, The middle tree and highest there that grew,	         Sat like a Cormorant; yet not true life	 Thereby regained, but sat devising death	 To them who lived; nor on the virtue thought	 Of that life-giving plant, but only used	 For prospect what, well used, had been the pledge	         Of immortality. "

“Thence up he flew, and on the Tree of Life,
The middle tree and highest there that grew,
Sat like a Cormorant; yet not true life
Thereby regained, but sat devising death
To them who lived; nor on the virtue thought
Of that life-giving plant, but only used
For prospect what, well used, had been the pledge
Of immortality. “

It’s that time again: NaPoWriMo. When I pretend I won’t do all the prompts and, instead, write four poems a day if I get behind. (But it turns out, I really enjoy writing poems – so it’s fine. Don’t worry yourself.)

So to business: a poem of negation. I found myself (as I did at the start of NaPoWriMo the year before last, curiously) in Cardiff, at the Museum. Having thought I might write about their photography exhibition (and at some point, I will write something about the tornadoes that struck South Wales in 1913, which were depicted therein) I was walking past the Natural History Galleries and saw the chap above, wings outspread…and so…

“Sat Like a Cormorant; Yet Not”

I am not the ragged fabric
that hangs from pirate booms.
I am not the devil in any disguise;
why would these feathers be costume?

I am the portent of Nothing
but this gunmetal sea;
the harbinger of Nothing
and nobody’s prophecy.

I am no red-breasted festive
greeting to some lost friend.
My neck is not the elegant
waved S of the swan, my wings
a continent, an eon from
the wall-mounted mallard.

I will not look directly at you
nor deny the dark hook
of my eyes. I will not stand
for the cliff-wall epitaph,
for the black clouds
etched on your skies.

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