July 6, 2013

Crow Spirit

It is not every day that one has an experience that feels almost mystical. But such an event happened to me a few days ago. It happened during my morning walk around Webster Woods.

My walk was proceeding as it usually does, with my mind not fully engaged in the natural beauty around me on account of aches and pains. Suddenly I was stopped in my tracks by a huge black raven, or perhaps a very large crow, that flew into a tree before me and created a great stir. I saw once on PBS that crows are quite intelligent and can even recognize human faces, so I wondered if this animated black bird knew me. He kept my attention by flapping his wings and calling out repeatedly.

Not knowing why, while this glossy black bird was cawing away and gyrating like a dancer, I averted my eyes and looked down at my feet. There on the ground next to my left foot was a white oblong shape. It appeared at first to be yet another piece of ubiquitous tissue trash around the park, but I kicked it to be certain. To my surprise, out of the sand popped a beautifully napped Native American spear head (photograph at top). It was flat on one side so I concluded that it was actually the beginning of a spear head that had split in half before it was finished. Nevertheless it was still attractive and precious so I took it home with me and cleaned it up.

Because of the juxtaposition of the crow with the spear head, I was curious about what some research would reveal about the crow in Native American religion. I was fascinated to find out that a crow was part of the Ghost Dance, whose spirit was invoked for healing powers and that the crow was said to represent long distance healing. It may be all coincidence, but how appropriate to have this experience of the crow and the spear while I’ve been recovering from a protracted illness. I have indeed made a turn for the better and have been much more functional than usual these past few weeks so I’m cautiously optimistic.

In the spirit of the crow, I’m posting a poem I had written earlier, which I then illustrated after I became ill. In my illustration, the crow dancer is a female figure because I included her in my chapbook of poems about female spirits and otherworldly creatures. Despite the fact that my experience of the animated crow does not dovetail exactly with the quiet crow of the poem, it still resonates on other levels.

Crow watches you
with eyes you cannot see
black on black against the setting sun
waiting in quiet silhouette upon a branch
Crow seeks you
in benevolent predation
to feed upon your sorrows
and swallow your regrets
Crow finds you
alone among the living
lost within memories of departed souls
who call and call your name

Crow grasps you
in her claws folded
tight around your waist
her black beak hard against your face

Crow knows you
when you cross the bridge
into that great void
and come back home again

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