Excerpt of Song of the Crow by Layne Maheu
(Page 5 of 7)
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The forest was never so quiet as then.
Except the cooling of the wind. And the murmuring of the yes.
And the murmuring of the no. And the sighing beneath the leaves, waiting
for the final word.
Soon the rhythm of Keeyaws ax resumed.
And the wind picked up, arguing again through the grizzled mat
of the beastmans beard, and My Other could imitate, with the high, nasally
pitch of parody, the sound Keeyaw made, hacking away at the underworld, rending
the tree of its branches, and the beastman would hesitate and look up, full of
woe and worry, swinging those awful implements over his head and then down
again. Tunk, tunk, tunk, sang My Other. And Keeyaws mournful mustaches
Were told that his understanding of nature was so exact
that he could select the tree, specifically a cedar tree, or a kind
of cedar tree, that in the course of one-hundred and twenty years, once
planted, could grow to the height of fifty meters, which is the measure he
needed for the construction of the Ark.
- Aaron Tendler, Noah and the Ark, Voyage to a New
Mother of Many
Another tree gone, and the sky hung lower.
The Giant lay dead, dumb, and naked, and Keeyaw kept smacking
it, ripping the limbs free until the trunk lay wasted in the clearing. He went
after the branches with the same grim intensity he went at the trunks, lost in
mossy arboreal sadness, and he kept hacking away until he was further hidden
from sight. Only then did our mother find it safe enough to fly to the nest. Her
eyes, leaking the ancient ooze of her years, took us in lovingly as she lowered
strips of half-chewed frog gut into our gapes. Then she cleaned the nest of our
dung sacks, flew away with them in her beak, and then came back.
Every once in a while the winds threatened to argue all over
again, but the sky let out a long sigh and the wind went on its troubled way,
leaving us to the devices of Keeyaw.
My hungry brother and I strained above the nest to see what
Keeyaw was up to.
He heaped all of the severed branches into a loose, snaggy pile.
Is he building a nest here?" I asked.
I waited for an answer, staring at Our Manys claws, scaled
and gnarly and clutched to the nest at my face. Above her hooks, her squat old
body blocked out the sun. But then she was the sun, dark with love,
ragged with comfort. As if she were well-being itself, we longed for the
blue-black, worn-feather protection to come shining down over us. But she
bristled now from wounded authority, and her beak kept working away at the
unrest in her coat.
Then "Eeiiwaaack! Eeiiwaaack!" off in the
Whereas most creatures flee the sound of Keeyaw, my
father flew in, desperate for a look. "Fly Home!" Whenever our
father heard the beastmans attack fall over the woods, he cried out in alarm,
but also in eerie exultation. "Fly Home!" Was it a welcome? A
threat? He flew in wild and large and threw his hooks out to landeven though
the tree was no longer thereas if in denial of what Keeyaw had done. He must
have thought his own absence had allowed the tree to fall. He lit far from our
nest and let Keeyaw have it. He bobbed with each caw and his feathers flared as
if Keeyaw were directly below, and the strange, terrible beast answered with the
crack of his ax.
Me! Me!" cried My Other. "I Am!"
But not even the begging of his favorite could bring my father
to the nest.
Instead, Fly Home stayed where he was, leaning and lunging and
spreading with each call, and our mother flew to the outlying woods to meet him.
But their greeting was clipped and afraid. Our father had a huge, swimming brow
of crown feathers where all his distant thoughts could live, and our thick old
mother stretched herself up as best she could to rearrange his scattered brow.
Cant you see?" she said. "Whats
happening to the woods?"
Has he touched Our Giant?"
No," she said. "I wont let him."
Excerpted from Song of the Crow, © 2006 Layne Maheu. Reprinted by permission of Unbridled Books. All rights reserved.