One for Sorrow, Two for Joy

This entry is part 7 of 20 in the series Highgate Cemetery Poems


Weed whacker

Magpies have been observed engaging in elaborate social rituals, possibly including the expression of grief.

So those are magpies!
They do look acquisitive.
They hover over
the graves like eyebrows
or second thoughts, tails
held decorously aloft.
Each time I raise the camera
they take flight—proof
they’re not spirits
but among the quick.
They are, in their black-
&-white way, shiny.
They remind me of
our shared mission:
to rob the dead.
Their chatter offers
a refuge from this refuge
where even the weed
eater keens, though
among their own kind,
blessed with sufficient wit
to comprehend loss,
they’re said to indulge
in rituals of grief.
I try counting them:
one, one, one.

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