True North

D.R. James

The lone crow on the lone pole
where the weathervane used to whirl
insinuates my need for misdirection.

He is an arrow of skittish attention,
of scant intention: the cock and hop,
the flick and caw toward anything

on the wind. Now angling east, now
south by southwest, he designates
with beak then disagreeing tail feathers,

with a lean-to and a shoulder scrunch,
with an attitude from his beady black eye—
as if he were ever the one to judge.

And once he’s spun like a pin on a binnacle
past all points of some madcap inner compass—
once the clouds have bowed to push on

and the grasses waved their gratefulness—
he unfurls the shifty sails of his wings
and the breeze relieves him of his post.

This poem was included in “Split-Level,” a chapbook of poetry by David James published in 2017. James is an adjunct associate professor of English and coordinator of academic coaching at Hope College.