She answered her own call. Plucked away by owls."
She fanned her wings open and flew down onto the abandoned tree, stretched out across a bed of scrub and fern. She bobbed there and sang into one of the few weeping branches that remained. She cawed inwardly, lunging with muscles of grieving gut, as if regurgitating her song, as if feeding and singing were one and the same. Nestor!" She called to some fledge of her memory, now lost inside the tree. Where? Where! Bloated by rain. Kettle, flung by the wind, eaten by mice, by flies, by maggots. Fledges snagged by hawks, by angry gods without names."
Since crows can count up to seven, any bird beyond that in age is from the seasons beyond counting, and though it wasnt always true for my mother, the seasons beyond her counting were advancing. She could remember the many who had flown from her nest. She just couldnt tell how long ago they had come, or gone, or if they had gone, or where to.
Then Our Many flew back up to the nest.
Through her distant, cloudy blinking, I could swear she hardly saw us, but looked far into her song and whatever unfortunate simp her memory had conjured up just then.
Excerpted from Song of the Crow, © 2006 Layne Maheu. Reprinted by permission of Unbridled Books. All rights reserved.
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