Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Black Magic, and the Consideration of Invisibility

The raven’s wings scuttle and pop against the
fabric of the daylight, dappled as it is in
this wintry forest, and it’s strange that
birds never breathe out vapor, as the
coyote does, panting from the fruitless run,
tail hanging limp, the snowshoe hare long
gone and hidden in deep brush,

And the raven watches, as he watches
everything, a wise and detached observer,
perhaps malevolent but always interested,
his eyes like wet orbs of obsidian, able
to get as close to the fleet coyote as
he wishes, nearly invisible, even at
a kill, and the bird remembers a time
when he leapt atop the soft flank
of a cowering coyote as it bared
its teeth at its superior when driven back
from the open carcass, how it was as
if he were not there, or somehow
preserved from harm and notice.

And the raven, now bored with the
panting sound, and the shiver in the
brush where the rabbit waits, terrified,
flies up to a low branch and continues
to remember, considering the time
when the snow on the hill was very
smooth, and if he lay on his back
with his head facing downward, he
would slide down to the bottom,
and he thinks of the sound of the snow
against his feathers, and the feel of it,
so different from wind, and how he’d
flown up that hill many times and
let himself slide down, and he wondered
if he would do it again, and what it
meant, and if he could swoop down
like an owl and peck the mouse in
the leaf litter dead, or if it would
hear him and dive down into a hole.

The raven is now lost in a windstream
of remembering, and thinks of the place
by the road where the humans park,
of the wooden platform where they
put food, and how they often wander
away, leaving it there for him and the

And there was the time when the great fire
happened, and the smoke drove the insects in
a wave across the field, and he could catch
them by simply opening his beak and letting them
jump in.

And there was the taste of salmon when they would
spawn and die out in the river many day’s flight
to the west, but that would be a long time yet,
but he wondered if, when the run came to its
halt in the cool shallows of the river, if he would
come up near a bear as it pulled the skin from a
fish, and he would light upon its back and sit there,
quiet and unnoticed, remembering these things,
knowing these things he knew, mighty and untouchable
like the wind.


MB said...

What an interesting poem! Seems like maybe it hasn't been that long since you got out of the city. I really enjoyed your twist on the intelligence and mystique of the raven.

when the leapt atop the soft flank

drthunder said...

Lovely. How clearly you made me feel the remembrances of the raven. I found myself not wanting this one to end.

Firehawk said...


Right..."He" rather than "the". I'll fix it.

Bill said...

This one could have gone on... it just flowed, start to finish. As always it invoked vivid imagery for me.

For whatever reason, towards the end, that DH Lawrence line:

A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.

ran through my head.

Firehawk said...

Thanks, everyone, for cominb by and saying nice things. I'll be posting another one soon...

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