A MURDER OF CROWS
I am a crow of distinction
A very fine crow indeed
I am a crow of distinction In me you can believe Call to me at midnight
And my gift you will receive
She starts to shake, convulsions spread from her chest along her thin, pale limbs. As the dry air in the hospital room hisses around us I can hear the flapping of wings beyond the low hum of electrical equipment. The lights on the monitor next to her bed flicker and extinguish for a second before flashing back to life and the shrieking alarm brings the medics running. I look down at my sister, at her now still body and feel hope.
The fragile writing paper crumbled in my hand, too late to replace it in the cover of the book I'd borrowed from father's library but I really didn't need it, I remembered the simple words and recited them every night, for what child wouldn't want a gift brought on the wings of magic?
At dusk I watched the black, beady crows in the high trees around our house and they watched me. To me they were not the harbingers of folklore; they were my guardians and closer to me than family.
As we grew older my enchanting sister charmed all who strayed into her sphere but to me it seemed natural to prefer birds to people; I buried them when the hawk came hunting, I told them to flee when the game-keeper put down chicken heads laced with poison and I drew them repeatedly in my art therapy class until one of my fellow patient's multiple personalities screamed uncontrollably at a painting entitled 'A Murder of Crows'. True, it depicted my black feathered friends with claws dripping in carrion blood but we all have to eat! I tried to explain that a
'Murder' was a poetic collective for crows but the Counsellor decided that art was no longer a suitable therapy for
Meanwhile, my golden sister had fallen in love. True to form he was tall, dark and handsome and just the gift I had been waiting for. I called him Benjamin Crow but she called him 'the love of her life' and then 'husband'.
Benjamin Crow quickly moved into our crumbling country house but it didn't take long before the rooms echoed with their bitter words, doors slammed and the crows entered my dreams again. Now they told me that he wanted only me, that I just needed an opportunity.
It wasn't difficult. A simple supper that's all it took for how could she resist those tasty wild mushrooms from our own woods?
It's over! Two years of waiting, two years of baffled doctors and her kidneys slowly failing and now Benjamin Crow rushes into the hospital room calling her name. He's good, I'll give him that.
As they place her coffin into the cold ground my feathered friends watch from the high trees surrounding the churchyard. The service is dignified and when it's over Benjamin Crow turns his tear-stained face to me and tells me that he hopes I will stay to look after the house but he cannot, he is returning to London to start a new life
The crows caw and take flight, the flapping of wings fills the icy air and they are gone. He looks up at the sky and remarks
"She read a poem once, about crows and gifts. That's what she called me, her Gift." Then he turns and walks to the waiting car.