Ravens Cry by Richard Charles Stevens

My friend Richard shared this poem with me yesterday after I recounted the day I rescued an injured crow found in parkland behind Stirling Castle when I lived in my homeland of Scotland. The crow had a fractured leg which I splinted with a matchstick and plaster tape. After a couple of days he became restless and I set him free.

Ever since then I’ve felt an affinity with corvids. And graveyards, the morbid and Faraway trees!

Shared with kind permission.

i have always found it so peaceful here
in the cemetery

my own little private sanctuary

a place where i can be alone with my thoughts
divorced from the reality which constantly underwhelms me

this garden of remembrance
doesn’t get too many visitors

most of the flowers left
have long since withered

and a number of the headstones are illegible

indeed many would regard this plot as instantly forgettable

but not i

For here i am one with myself

here i can contemplate free of static interference

there are no terms to my endearment

nobody to answer to

but i’m never short of company

the fellowship in question are at their most vocal once the sun sets

as night draws in this chorus becomes deafening

and i have to admit

i rather enjoy the commotion

indeed i receive a sweet chill each time i feel
the symphony approaching

i often imagine they’re all alive beneath the topsoil

deep in the clay

buried with secrets still burning

yearning to divulge

tell their forepassed tales

not become forgotten

but time has already snatched away that privilege

their weather worn markers no longer celebrate them

instead they hang like lopsided portraits
in a gallery of the bygone

chipped away by years of neglect
many barely even erect

their sobs destined to fall on deaf ears

on this particular night
things are deathly silent

its funny
i actually find it more harmonious when they’re in full voice

death always fascinated me you see

the last dance always waltzed through my thoughts with an air of romance

one final rite of passage

this one inescapable

but far more intimate than any other

and hearing these incorporeal cries
made me feel like i was part of something

they do say you never feel more alive than when huddled close with death

and i get that now

which is why i don’t feel disconsolate

at the sight of a single black Raven
perched just a few feet from where I’m seated

many regard these birds as ill-omened

harbingers of sorrow

whose only purpose is to signpost the end of all things

and when they spread wide their broad black wings

it is construed as forewarning

a sombre presage of final certitude

yet all I feel is serene as i sit beneath the ceaseless gaze of my visitor

if the court is in session

then it must be in recess

as i do not feel adjudged
sense no reckoning

and even though it beckons
through that concentrated stare

i hear no death knell
no oncoming procession

and the chill in the air now comforts

it is as though this raven has always been there
and perhaps it has

maybe i just hadn’t noticed

maybe i wasn’t intended to

could it be that the one thing i have given the widest berth my whole life to
is actually my guardian
custodian to my soul

present only to renew

cast light through the blackest of nights

if I’m honest
i had come here to die

to join the chorus

detach myself from the dull ache which has crippled me for so long
and drift away

no grievance or fuss

full and final allegiance to ashes
then dust

but that was then

back when i felt that my very best efforts were in vain
that i was doomed to spend my very last days
misunderstood and in pain

when the fact of the matter is

i have never been more cognizant

never seen clearer
never felt more at peace with my part in chapters of my life now closed

and right now
in this moment
i finally feel seen

and it has suddenly dawned on me why

you see this particular corvid and i
have history together

or at least
it is more than aware of my virtues

many years ago now
back when i was a child

i happened across a bird not unlike it

beneath a red cedar in this very plot

it was felled
badly injured

its wing was broken

and its eyes dull and listless

as though already resigned to its fate

i cradled my crestfallen friend in both hands

hurried home

and nursed it back to health
as best i could

for days i cared of nothing else
fed it
told it every last one of my secrets
and it listened most intently

then
when the time came
i released it

with a heavy heart i might add

the burden was lifted the very second i heard this Raven cry

as it rejoined its flock

and every single last one of them echoed its chant

i never fully understood what that meant
until now
in this moment

as i cast my weary eyes across the ocean of headstones before me
each of them hosts its own visitor

perhaps that is why the voices have subsided

i like to think it is

that they have now found their eternal rest

and all it took was to be seen

my tears have dried now

my heart is full once more

its estuary overflows

and dozens of these fine birds perch at the gates of my soul

protecting it
nursing it back to health

feeding it
telling it every last one of their secrets
and listening most intently

then
when the time comes

they will know what to do

First published July 27th 2018 on Rivers of Grue HERE

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

© Copyright: Rivers of Grue™ Shadow Spark Publishing™

2 thoughts on “Ravens Cry by Richard Charles Stevens

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