Photo by ashim ayed on Unsplash

Frank woke, beady eyes alert in the unaccustomed dark. Nearby, Molly, Jasper, Fred, Curly, and Jess were all sound asleep, as they should be, hunkered in the highest branches of the elm, grasping their respective perches with tenacious claws. In the various levels below, the other twenty or thirty of their crow tribe bobbed, doggedly dreaming while they awaited the arrival of the Prince of Light with his promised kiss…

Frank had been dreaming, as usual, of shiny things – coins, diamond rings, tin foil… Damn! He remembered the time he’d landed on that boy’s head and the bright silver coin had turned out to be nothing but a circle of unpigmented hair in the middle of his crewcut. Mortifying! But of course that had been long ago, when he was a mere fledgling, and this was now, and why was he awake??

Looking around him, he rocked from foot to foot, wondering. The night was cool, the stars winking endlessly in the black depths, and it seemed to him that they were gently beckoning, sending him subtle scents from another world…

But what was he thinking? He really should not be awake – he was no owl… Ruffling his feathers he shifted his grip, closed his eyes and waited…

Sleep always came instantly to him, as it did to all his kind, but for some reason, now it was nowhere to be found. At last he gave up, opened his eyes and gazed about him, curious. This wakefulness was bad, no doubt, but he couldn’t deny that it felt rather good. Something beguiling seemed to be afloat in the dark, calling to him, as if the Night were inviting him into herself…

Well why not? Why should owls be the only ones to fly at night? Cautiously, not to wake the others, he spread his wings, pumped them once – and the dark air opened, lifting him like its own child. Then he could no longer resist. With a few powerful wing strokes, he soared up into the night…

Up and up he flew, higher and higher and higher, until the tree where his tribe slept was swallowed in darkness far below. And the luminous night enveloped him, holding him close like a mother, lifting him into herself, opening her secrets to him…

And the joy of the flight filled him like water overflowing, so that he forgot the world below, forgot about the irresistible imperatives of food and sex and treasure, forgot even about his tribe’s appointed mission of waking the world every day with their unruly cries.

Up and up he flew, the silent depths breathing all around him, welcoming and endless. The higher he rose, the more effortless his flying became, and there arose in him a reasonless longing, a yearning that was happiness itself, a powerful happiness about all and everything. Perhaps he would have called it “gratitude” if he’d known the word – gratitude for the silent planet below, for the cradle of Space in which the earth slept like a child, wrapped in her mantle of soft air and clouds, and for his tribe and all the sleeping and waking creatures who called the earth their home…

 

Photo by Trudi Lee Richards

And all at once a wild crow of delight lept from his own throat, making him laugh in surprise as it ricocheted all across the span of night. And the moon crooned her gleaming melody, and the stars showered the interloper with their luminous voices, and Time took a breath and stopped, listening… And all was well.

Frank never knew how long that endless moment held him, suspended…

But at last something whispered to him that his tribe was stirring down below where the rim of the world was just beginning to glow… And full of gladness, he plunged back down, homeward…

He came to rest beside his friends just as they were opening their beady eyes, snapping awake (as they did every morning) as the ritual word reached them (as it did every morning) that yes! It was true! Once again, the sun was up!

And with that, just as they did every morning, Frank and all his tribe, and all the crow tribes everywhere where morning was breaking, exploded into caws of astonishment and joy. Taking to their wings, their raucous cries ringing out all around them in the burgeoning dawn, they flew out all across the great awakening world to break the wonderful news of the Coming of the Light.

Frank the Crow and the Coming of the Light
Trudi Lee Richards

Trudi Lee Richards

Trudi Lee Richards, one of the poet-bards of Silo’s Message, is the author of "Ambrosia," "Confessions of Olivia"; "On Wings of Intent, a biography of Silo"; "Soft Brushes with Death"; and "Experiences on the Threshold." Exactly two of her poems have ever been published: "Fairies of the Forest," which appeared in the Palo Alto Times "Youth Said It" column in 1957, and "The Great 21st Century Poemic," which appeared in the April 2021 edition of Global Poemic (globalpoemic.wordpress.com). She also edited and published the independent San Francisco newspaper "Human Future" from 1989-1997, and before that co-founded "La Mamelle," a '70s San Francisco arts publication. A graduate of Stanford University, she helped raise several humans from infancy, and is now enjoying their friendship. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.