From the recording Raaf the Raven Eats Once More
Raaf the Raven Eats Once More
In the twilight of November, this is what I now remember.
The sun—just a glowing ember resting on a western shore.
Bald eagles council on these grounds because their favorite food abounds.
With but one and common goal they know what winter has in store;
Gathering to fill their crops and feast upon these fish galore—
Only salmon—nothing more.
And to this land come every year—the eagle, raven, fox, and bear—
Come all these beasts from far and wide; as they have since days of yore,
Where the river never freezes—this for all it truly pleases—
And they gather side by side to watch the fish swim home in hoards,
So all can eat ’til spring draws near, and “Why?” you ask, “Why, what for?”
For the salmon—nothing more.
For ten years I have come to see, and thereby write this odyssey.
Not to tell the salmon’s journey, though their sojourn to here bore
Untold numbers of these eagles—where the river never freezes,
Not just foxes, wolves, and bears in numbers here not seen before,
But told in stories and some yarns, sometimes long forgotten lore.
Tales of ravens—and much more.
There was a raven I call Raaf, the cleverest raven of all.
He was a dark and brawny fowl, but he used his brain far more
Than other creatures that came here reaping the salmon’s bounty.
For his modus operandi to obtain his daily fare
Was to trick and fool the others for their hard earned meals before
They could feast on what they scored.
Now Raaf, ebony bird was he—creator of his destiny—
For himself he provided well with a varied stock and store.
Munificent this time of year were the salmon that came here,
And their flesh Raaf purloined thusly: Perched up in a tree he bore
In his beak a stone and an aim of which he was very sure.
Here he perched ‘til half past four.
This surely was the time, Raaf knew, when a rogue eagle, some called “Boo,”
Bullied others for their bounty, mostly just to make them sore.
So, Raaf, not using force or brawn, dropped a little stone upon
Boo’s head! When he came up fighting, all the others did implore,
“You are a fool; look what you’ve done! Now, you see, we must find more!”
Raaf the raven eats once more.
But one small meal will not sustain. A raven must eat to maintain
His strength and to nourish his brain. As I watched our Raaf explore
All his options for his next meal with his dark obsidian eyes,
I was in awe with what I saw—salmon laid out by the score!
Raaf surely must have been sated, but slated was he for more.
Raaf the raven wanted more.
I watched as Raaf perched in a spruce to execute this crafty ruse:
A dog he espies with its prize—then one “woof” Raaf does outpour.
Yet he waits, nary a flutter, then waiting, waiting, stopped, stayed he—
Until our dog, stops, drops, and stares—through the trees she’s looking for;
She’s looking for but only sees, shadowed on the forest floor,
Wings of raven—nothing more.
I do believe Raaf finds this fun to outwit something or someone.
Without a sound he circles ’round, settling on an arctic door,
And perched high upon the gable—Raaf the raven will be able—
Once again to trick this child whose mother booted out the door,
She said “Take these treats, out you go; Come when I tap the window.”
Raaf knows this—he’ll eat once more
Here he waits a very short time, ’til the child wants to go inside,
Then with his beak he starts to rap. Rap, tap, tapping on the door
’Til the child turns toward the window, and looks but sees not his mother,
But clearly he can hear the rap. Rap, tap, tapping like before—
In he goes—not closing the door—dropping cookies on the floor…
Raaf the raven eats once more.
Let us not stop our story here, the dead of winter’s night is near.
Because ravens must eat daily, when their salmon cache gets low,
Clever ravens—not just cravens—but ravens brave and resourceful,
Take to the sky and circle high to observe what lies below.
And from this vantage Raaf can see, scanning the vista below,
That he, Raaf, will eat once more.
As of the telling of this tale the raven’s mysteries abound,
They astound, but we must recall, life in the wild is a chore.
Resting raven shiny and black, touches of blue glistening o’er
Feathers folded against his back, sleeping quietly he wore
In his repose a countenance, as if it were his armor.
’Tis the raven—nothing more.
When Raaf awoke ’round about dawn, he yawned and then he mused upon,
Quietly with introspection, what he saw the night before.
An elder moose seen on that flight, and Raaf was saddened by its plight,
No more majestic did he rule—he was beaten to the core.
So off Raaf flew in hopes to find what his old friend had in store;
A friend Raaf could not ignore.
While on the wing Raaf hatched a plan where all of Earth’s creatures would win.
“What can I do? Can I help you?” of Ol’ Bull Raaf did implore.
He croaked and chattered with the moose until the ol’ bull could reply,
“I am a tired and spent old man and my bones they are so sore.
I lost battles to bulls I trained. I lost antlers that I wore.
This is it—there is no more.”
“So when you ask, ‘Can you help me?’ and if the truth seems harsh and cold,
If it seems cruel to be so kind, you must know I can’t endure.
I’ve served my time well here on Earth, and I hope to serve when I go.
My last wish of you dear raven, stalwart friend for evermore,
Spread word of this funeral feast and life on Earth I’ll abjure
In hopes to live for evermore.”
A regretful Raaf then took flight, spreading news of this final rite.
Gulls and moles, even meadow voles, from the woods they did outpour;
Fulfilling this cycle of life the only way that they know how,
Eagles, foxes, wolves, and bears, and other creatures by the score,
They ate and ate and ate and ate until they could eat no more,
Raaf the raven ate once more.
Now that you have heard my story; I hope that you know who I am.
It is I who once majestic—regal countenance I bore,
Many moose now carry my gene. You see I was the best around.
Do not waste your time being sad, this of you I must implore,
This is the story of my life—and my life I did adore.
Now I’ll live for evermore.
And with my final breath on Earth, I made to Raaf a solemn oath,
For he helped me feed the forest, like the salmon does and more.
He eased me of my misery and he helped me to know my worth,
“Save the eyes for my good friend Raaf!” of the rest I did implore,
“So he can see that goes on, just like those who came before.”
Raaf the raven—eats—once—more. . .