Saturday, 16 December 2006

Three short paragraphs

The raven’s wings are sleek, like black wax that some ancient craftsman has moulded for flight. I am sitting perfectly still, watching it walk the wooden porch railing. The snow is starting to fall, pillowing the already dead world, shutting out memories of the lost summer and isolating the scrape of the raven’s claws as they grip against the grain. If I barely breathe, I can absorb the vibration of each rough, splintered note, played only once. I sigh slowly – no encore escapes from my lips. I imagine the sounds are now living in my body like scattered etchings, internal scars stored somewhere in the meat of my hips or that funny fatty bulge over my tailbone.

“Say something,” I hiss at it, the whispered command filled with such desperation that I shudder to have vocalized my longing so honestly while surrounded by so much nothing. I know better than to try and push bulges into empty space.

I once heard a raven in deep conversation with itself. I was sitting on a bench behind the old university library when I heard it above me, warbling and rolling sounds around in its throat, before releasing them loosely into the humid air. At first I was startled; I was convinced that it was choking. I pictured it sitting contentedly on its evergreen branch, a scene of shadow and shade except for the invisible string lassoed around its neck, ghost fingers pulling until its throat became the waist of a corseted vampiress. Despite realizing the bird was in no distress, this image of the cinched feathered gullet has remained in my mind as a macabre mystery.

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