Several rains had caught hold of my sleeves, collar and ends of my shoes on that Cradoc, gale wind afternoon. I was washed against a trite shore, somewhere near Glazier’s Bay. Gali and Vladek had just asked me to build them an addition to their kitchen. I remember. I just remember, O how I long to forget just to remember that lashed, apple-picking moment: I handed myself over to leaf-stretch of it as I strode, in large, hard steps past all those ghosts. Selves left by the wayside- there to chew their unwieldy histories and baggage. But there, in that warm cottage over the mirror bay I saw, for the very first time, forgiveness. I could eat that day forever and never get hungry again.
Bring on your Lisbons, Pragues, Florences. As for me, bring me pears in red wine and cream. Let me lick my fingers on evenings lit by nothing but the eyes of strangers from far away Harbin and before that Byelorussia – Belarus : bring me harsh winters, loss of children, hope and fade me into the landscape.
Cradoc, say goodnight gently, there on the steep slope looking down the Huon, starkly free of Huns, Goths and Slavs and bring me to the new land as several rains lash at my door. Wash me over this tiny Shire and rest my bones wearily, there, alongside Gali and Vladek.
Spasibo, old mother Russia would say as we ate the last of the pears.
Raven, nailed to the tree for interfering with the denizens of the world: thief of souls.
Apollo condemned them to everlasting thirst because a raven, sent to fetch water, had played too long with others in the field. Blighted also because it alone did not mourn the death of Jesus nor did it return to the ark once Noah had sent it on its way.
But the Bible exhorts us to consider the ravens with favour: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and still God feeds them. (Luke 12: 24); and, He commands them to feed great prophets like Elijah in a dry land where the ravens brought him bread and meat morning and evening. (1 Kings 17: 6)
In the arcane world of Portuguese writers, it is known that certain vendors, the carvão, who sold coal in fin de siecle Lisbon, sold a distinctive red wine from shops sign-posted by crows kept in cages. The poet Fernando Pessoa would play with these feathery things and would associate them with alcohol and, in particular, Poe the alcoholic.
What then am I to make of dream interpretation in my years of waning wisdom? Perhaps all I really need to do is to observe and become the dream; to undo the seam that links day to night so that my life is an endless reverie-inception. Perhaps in that way ravens may observe and come to see me as some strange apparition interrupting their flesh-picking, bone-scraping world.
So too, just as those birds will have no words for crawl, bark, cook, or plant I too will soon lose all language, all capacity to speak on any matters in the ebony-quill world beyond my conception.
And just as death, decay or the scent thereof which, they say, the Raven represents, are bitter things, I may taste them with avian-lizard tongue, feasting upon the eyes of sinners the way that the honey eater gathers honey. This taste of bitterness will then, in the world of my day, be visited upon me by any mere morsel such as unripe fruit, unrequited love, the pitch of jealousy, the malice of envy and unrelenting desire.
I am what I am: divided against myself and eternally at war cutting for sign: dark morph of the black bird covering my tracks. The blinds shiver in the wind as I imagine myself swinging from the hangman’s scaffold outside my window: unknowing, unthinking, unfeeling and, ever-so-slowly, inexorably, dying.
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