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There was a person,
Bright and calming,
Skin like river mud and eyes like flecks of foam
With whom the bairn had welcomed
In the dead of winter’s night.
She still remembers the day,
When razor wind cut frost crusted leaves
And the ground ached with frozen wounds;
When Ra had first come knocking.
They claimed to have been running away,
And saw the warmth of light in the sill
And decided to ask for shelter
That invernous night.
From what their feet were fleeing,
She had answers none.
But Ra’s hands were warm despite the chill
And their eyes a hearth.
They had spoken of hot river steam and
Lands free of ice,
Of a landscape of ash and dreams, where
Black, matte feathers decorated branches
Instead of leaves,
As a crow watched below, her eyes cold and
They described her Crowland,
A place, thought she, a mere dream.
Smitten, as they say, are the two.
So enraptured was the bairn with the stories
And the comfort
That she forgot the wild’s claim
And grew to love.
How strange is the feel of barrenness,
Even ensconced amongst wool,
Aware of every prick of the nerve
And touch of the skin.
She had only felt whole wrapped in wilds,
But the encircling of arms about her
Is a safety she loves to taste.
Asks she, wicked in the dark,
Have you been to the land of ash and wings?
I dream of it still,
I had those sights you described
In my head
Since before you had come.
It floods my nights with vividity and sorrow,
And blood and battles, never won.
Is it true what they say,
That the crow still flies?
Have you seen her, Ra, have you seen?
A solemn nod came answer.
Of course, lovely Mur,
She told me to run.
Run from my house in the cold, feet bare
She was right, I had to run.
I saw the fire in the distance
A fate I’d been saved from.
I lived in the ash, with my wretched home
Sitting fresh and new between two hills.
Alone, were we,
The land a sacred thing
That scared the feet that walked
And me, as well.
But she, oh Mur,
A wonderful bird,
Her voice like soft yearning but
Hard like stones.
You must come to see her, if only for
I would like to come too, and thank her.
So the days come and go, every golden cycle
Of the sun a distant tick of Fate’s waiting.
Older, they grew, now woman and elder,
One knotted like bark,
The other smooth as snow.
Mother and child, under the glare of time
Coming into and coming out of
Miraculous things, respective.
But time does not forgive nor spare,
Goodness an illusionist’s wave
And time is immune to it all.
Her mother is grey and sick,
Now barren of color and light,
Each retch of her stomach a cold reminder
Of life’s brutal end.
Beckoning her daughter close,
There is legend that tells of a wish granting
Bird, of black silk wings and beetle eyes.
Starved were her kind, under our locks,
But one still flew, unclipped and free.
The day she flew by.
When I fade you must go, flee with those feet
And look for her, please,
Ask your wish for me,
For I am too late to try.
You dream of it; it is your land,
Dear Mur, my beautiful bairn.
Go see that crow, as you’ve wished for years
Alone or with company,
As long as you arrive.
This is what I wish of you.
Look under the floorboards, lovely,
Under the boards.
Rivers fall from the lashes of her lovely eyes,
Mourning tithes, precious as gold,
As the gnarled hand she holds so dearly
Greys and falls cold, cold
Cold like winter, cold like snow
Cold like the ground’s aches
And cold like northern breath.
And she promises, she swears on a wild heart
That she would see her crow once,
Like her mother desired
And revel a question, a wish at journey’s end
To ask for the warmth of a mother’s
Young hand again, even as it grew to dust
Beneath her fingers.