Become a Book Nerd
When you’re not reading books, read our newsletter.
The cold sky wrestles with fire-searing
Hearth below, where mother and bairn
Slumber tightly together in their
Close-quartered housing, small breaths puffing quicker than their neighbor’s.
The house groans against conflicting weather
Old wood rotted and rickety.
Both children of the earth hold a warmth
In their hearts,
A spite against the biting cold that thrashes
Beyond their thin, shabby walls.
And well due to her mother’s soft words,
The bairn slumbers through elegant dreams
Of Crowland, virgin and fair.
Far away, past the calling of a wild crow and
Past the murmurs of a sleeping child,
A marvelous eye observes quietly,
Iridescent gaze worth a thousand lights.
Its great hand shifts the pieces of the game,
Tugging shoulders into shapes of wings
And feathers into human skin.
A red string hangs between two fingers,
Tied gently to the necks of the players,
Lightly knotted, never choking
For the thread, it summons Life, not the
Reaper of Death.
And thus the two fates,
Child mammal and graceful crow alike,
Linked by otherworldly hand,
Entwined dramatically and invisibly,
Naked only to the eyes of the Watcher,
Its hands caressing the surface of the world
And breathing atmosphere from the heavens.
The game was just beginning,
A tale of two worlds
And two vastly different beings,
Blessed by marks from the Great One itself
Unwished and unwarranted
Though blessings are hardly asked for.
As the young bairn grows, her
Soft cheeks fill and her hair grows
Dark and dim as woolen night.
Eyes like ebony stars, flinty but warm,
Gaze still upon the world with
The wonder of a child.
Her mother knows not what to do with her,
A daughter so different in flesh than she,
Who was not born with the marks
Of wings upon her back but still
Possesses the inky swirls of those ghost
Feathers, stretched across her shoulders
A kiss from the Eye,
Though unaware is she,
Ash-streaked hair a puff of dark air
Boasting wisdom and the loss of a great
Yes, there was her eyes,
Almond and the same
And lips sweetly curved like a taught bow
But her skin! Sweet white like milk
And her hair! Straight as a pin.
Nothing of her colors echo “Mother”
But she loved the child all the same.
When she was but a birthling,
The bairn had climbed a giant plant
Tiny paws steady, without tremor
At the great height.
The shrieks of her mother brought her down,
But her heart yearned for wind on her skull
And northern breath in her hair.
When she was steady on her feet,
The world above was waiting, and she
Lept off thatch roofs to catch the clouds in
Greedy, wanting palms,
All while wishing she had feathers
Instead of skin
Instead of twigs.
When she could sing the highest trill,
The only sound that soothed her heart
Was the lull crowing of her gravelly voice
Calling in the night for her wind.
Though always an echo away from the
Bird she dreamed when her eyes fell dark.
When her waist thinned and lips plumped,
Other young creatures
Could not tear their eyes away,
For such a lovely, child-sweet lady
Allured more than nature’s favor,
Neighbors of her village paying gifts
In exchange for affection.
But she rejected them all,
The only one who possessed her was the wilds
And the air
And feathered wings, soft and fair.