Maurice Manning

The Miller and The Crow

Before there was a past before
the present decided looking back

can only be a line that ends
in darkness, a god in the shape of a crow

came down and said it to the man:
the stone should be bigger than your hand,

but just a little; one of these days
that stone will stun you and make you think

that it’s alive, and you’ll be right,
it is. And sure enough, one day

the man had cause to be amazed
when he looked down at the end of his arm.

Well, I’ll be damned, he said. And then
the crow came down and said, not yet,

you’ll have to wait a while for that.
How long? The man who had become

a miller asked. The crow rose up
and flapped the dust out of his wings.

Your people, he said, will think the light
of revelation must die out.

They will forget I came to you,
and they’ll forget about you, too,

and they’ll be dead to the living stone,
the one that’s breathing in your hand.

You’ve felt that breath in you. You know
the reason why the stone is round,

but one day your people will forget.
They’ll think the stone is just a stone.