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CROWLAND

By @TEFlash

Section Two

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,

Far above,

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

Imagination.

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

And wings

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,

Saying

The only one who possessed her was the wilds

And the air

And feathered wings, soft and fair.

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