Death and the Raven

This is very off-topic for my blog as most of my rants are about body image and women’s issues, but as my sensitivity to this event has caused me lots of tears, I wanted to put it down on paper. And by “paper,” I of course mean, the internet.

Last night I encountered a crow who was having trouble flying. (I refer to the crow as male, though I have no idea if it was a male or female crow, just seemed like a boy crow to me, which I realize is silly). On closer inspection – just the fact he let me so near clued me in that something was wrong – I realized his legs were bound together with twine. Somehow he had gotten himself tangled up and it was throwing him off. He would try to fly, run into walls, fall, and then walk with difficulty. In a somewhat comedic endeavor, I managed to follow him around, step on the trailing twine, clip it with scissors, and set his legs free. He seemed traumatized, but I had high hopes for him, even though I left him hiding behind a planter, which he didn’t want to leave. I know because he cawed loudly at me when I got too close.

 

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This morning I walked out into the street and found the crow dead. Completely flattened, run over, face crushed, guts spilling out of his mangled, broken body. By the white markings on his wings, I knew it was the same crow. Maybe he’d been disoriented from all the repeated head butts to the wall when he was trying to fly and couldn’t. Maybe it was just his time to go. But I cried nonetheless. Big, blubbery sobs. The futility of the 45 minutes or so I had spent trying to free him clawed at my heart, and had even perhaps propelled him to his death. Or maybe, like so many of my friends following his story on Facebook said, I had given him freedom in his last moments on earth and that kindness was worth something. When doing a Buddhist chant with a friend this morning, I chanted that the crow’s soul find peace and that his next incarnation is a noble one. I didn’t even feel ridiculous doing it, even though I’m sure plenty of people will think that is precisely what I am.

Haunted by the symbolism of saving a crow just to find it dead the next day, I combed my brain (and my external hard drive) for a dream I once had, and wrote down, about a raven. I wrote this many years ago, probably in the early to mid 90s, and I wrote it directly from the dream upon waking, so it’s not the best poetry ever written, but it’s eerie. More eerie now that the image of the dead crow I tried to save still burns the back of my eyes.

 

DEATH AND THE RAVEN

 

Death is the Raven flying right at me

Fear is the little sparrow

in Her grip.

Talons tear at sweet little bird flesh

Rip him from the known

And carry him to terror.

All he ever wanted was his sweet soft nest;

Little bird flying into Death.

Talons tearing open little bird breast.

Death, She is jealous

Of the Still Wind.

Somehow She knows

Peace is not for Her.

So She calls the Wind to fill Her wings

“Carry me to Fear,” She says.

“I want to take it Home.”

The Raven takes the sparrow

Higher than he’s ever flown.

“Is this Fear?” he wonders, “or merely the Unknown?”

Says the Raven to the sparrow,

“The Unknown can be Fear and

Fear can be Death.

There’s a price to pay for flying too high

And a price to pay for Rest.”

Little sparrow flies so high

to compensate for all the days

he was afraid to leave his nest.

Death is the Raven.

She tears open sparrow’s heart,

holds it high, bloody and torn.

The Raven flies right at me.

Why does She come over and over?

The sparrow’s body, bloody,

His blood is on my hands.

The sparrow’s flesh is torn,

My hands tear at my face.

I look into the sparrow’s Eyes and

I feel what Fear has done to me.

I see into the Raven’s Heart,

Where cold black blood runs hard

I can feel, I can see,

Death has chosen me.

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