What's the point in counting years
While the intensities are wasted
In bickering, fame and money matters?
Age fills our bones with dregs,
The skin dwindles to crinkled rags;
The gold nuggets of the best years
Are melted for the freight of illness.
While the body is wrecked and bent
And the face resembles ribbed sea sand
That solemnity is the name of wisdom
We are contented to carry into the tomb.
It was breakfast time
For the crow, or else
Why'd he light gently
On my balcony wall
Where he perched
Without a caw at all?
Unlike the fabled one
To teach a moral,
Unlike the huge one
That exploded like a bomb
Out of a charred black womb,
Screaming and scorching
earth with infernal fire,
He sat as quiet and gentle
As a shadow, wouldn't
catch my eye but for
His scratchy claws
That he couldn't help
Landing on my balcony wall.
He eyeballed me
And sized me up
With a flipping eye,
A blue tint from the sky.
His beaked head
Was tilted to one side
Like a fine instrument
set with great precision,
And steadied perfectly
In lidless concentration.
A doubting, untrustworthy creature
He wouldn't trust human nature,
But racked his high-tension nerves
To see thoughts beneath the other's skull.
His intense gaze got me fixed
As you'd a difficult text,
Impenetrable and dense,
All the nerves and muscles
Taut and tense in high alert.
Then maybe he reached his limits
And left my balcony for the world at large
Without abiding a crumb from my breakfast.
Masud Mahmood is a Professor of English at Chittagong University.