Improvisation

I fed out of my hand a flock of keys
To clapping of wings and shrill cries in flight.
Sleeves up, arms out, on tiptoe I rose;
At my elbow I felt the nudging of night.
The dark. And the pond, and the wash of waves.
And screeching black beaks in their savage attack,
All quick for the kill - not to hunger and die,
While birds of the species I-love-you fall back.

The pond. And the dark. The pulsating flare
From pipkins of pitch in the gloom of midnight,
The boat keel nibbled by lapping of waves.
And birds at my elbow in their wrath and fight.
Night gurgled, washed in the gullets of weirs.
And it seemed if the young were unfed, by rote,
The hen-birds would kill - before the roulades
Would die in the shrilling, the crooked throat.

by Boris Pasternak

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