Thursday, 9 April 2009
a man, his fiddle and crows: found in a thrift store
He’d walked much of that day and the day before,
always on the lookout for the mining camp,
the lonely settler, and the small towns with their weddings and wakes.
He had left home many years since,
left the green of his own country
to wander across the sun-bleached West,
the dry flat roads of the plains,
and the dark rugged mountains.
But no matter where he traveled,
stranger though he was,
he was never at a loss for words, for he needed none.
The music of his fiddle spoke for him,
and it was welcomed wherever he went.
Doors opened at its sound,
a place was made by a campfire,
and food and drink appeared.
it was a free life,
one that chased forward like the sprinkle of notes,
each connected for an instant but not remaining.
He sat down to rest in the shade.
He leaned his back companionably
against the rocks and took off his hat.
He closed his eyes and rested,
feeling his limbs sink into the yielding grass.
It was peaceful after a day’s walk.
But he didn’t rest long.
The wind that tugged at his hair brought with it sounds.
He opened his eyes and cocked his head to the wind.
There it was again—a sharp shrill call.
A bark, he guessed, imagining the coyotes
taking their pleasure like himself in the unexpected grass.
No, he thought, uncertain now
as the wind brought the sound closer.
Not a bark, but the harsh cawing of crows,
their raucous voices rising from the hidden basin of the canyon.
He stood up and, shouldering his pack and fiddle,
walked deeper into the canyon.
The road twisted and turned
through the high-walled corridors
until at last the canyon opened into a wide grassy field.
Spread across the field were crows,
fanning their black wings over the grass.
He stopped, awed at the sight of so many,
their necks thrown back as they called to one another.
The swirling flocks settled themselves uneasily,
stalking through the long grass,
their heads reared to catch the sunlight.
And with a common cry,
they shook their feathers,
beaks breaking and limbs stretching
until they had shaped themselves
into the semblance of human form.
He felt the earth tremble through his feet
as he approached the court of crows.
The whistled wind was hushed beneath their loud cries,
and the crickets were silent between the rocks.
He bowed his head,
the sounds of their rising arguments clashing in his ears.
They did not listen to each other,
but each voice shouted more loudly
until they merged into a single cacophony of sound.
he took out his fiddle
and tucked it under his chin.
He rested the bow over the strings
and waited a moment more to hear
what the wind would bring him.
A tune came from listening,
knowing what was already playing
in the hearts of those gathered.
He thought he could well guess
at the tunes a crow might wish —
with the harsh rasps of the double-stops.
All around him the waiting court burst into noise,
the shrill cawing
and harsh scraping of their voices
breaking the spell that held their forms.
Their cloaks flapped wildly,
lifting the dust from between the bladed grass,
and in the swirling clouds,
they gave themselves over to flight.
He held his hand over his face
to protect it from the seething dust,
glimpsing in the turquoise sky
the black veins of their parting.
And then the winds quieted,
the dust was exhaled back to the earth,
and the sky shone clear again.
This found poem was formed taking a few random passages from King of Crows, a short story from The Journal of Mythic Arts: Archived fiction. Do click on the story to read it online in its entirity.
Posted it for NaPoWriMo #10: Thrift store prompt in RWP.