Thursday December 4, 2014 4:30pm
In the parking lot gloom of the Superstore
I had to stop
and become very still,
heart, breath, soul
all of me
There, on the snow covered roof
of an old rusted red car
a large and mighty raven sat,
weather-worn and disheveled
wings slightly askew
neck feathers slightly ruffled
as though it had just returned
from some long night of misadventure
in the high mountain passes
where the storms and the gales
can blow one so swiftly off course
that home seems like such a far away thing
more bless-ed than breath.
And it knew it was in trouble, this Raven;
Knew it was in trouble
with the little pretty eyed girl
in a faded blue parka
with white fur trim
who stood in front of the car,
hands around her waist,
hugging herself tightly
and looking at the bird with a frozen expression
intent and silent.
And I thought to myself: How can one listen and scream at the same time?
It seemed to me,
that their gazes were so solidly locked
so permanently fixed upon the other
that nothing in this universe,
or this parking lot
was allowed to exist,
upon this private moment
of perfect grace.
And yet, in spite of myself, I felt my hand slowly reaching into my pocket for my cell…
The bird looked somewhat angry
nesting there, in its exhaustion,
or maybe it was sadness I saw,
in its cloudy eyes,
or defiance, or remorse,
in that bird’s disposition;
as though circumstance did not allow
for one gently expressed emotion at a time
the little girl
on the other hand,
looked like all little girls do,
when immersed in a childhood world,
where stuffed bears and misbehaving bunnies
do something bad,
and must answer for it;
Listen to me now, pleaded the Raven.
But the girl was insistent:
“It’s ok to be angry or sad, she says,
but never go to bed mad…”
I have so very much to tell you, replied the Raven,
and so little time for telling,
But the girl would have none of it:
“Just say that you’re sorry, and you
won’t do it again, and
know that I will love you, for more than forever…”
I know that, said the Raven, its heart breaking,
just a little bit more,
But now you must listen very carefully!
is a beautiful place.
It has an infinite capacity for kindness,
You can see it in the way a scary old house will leave a nook or cranny for spring swallows to have their babies;
or the way a beautiful flower will suddenly grow in the hottest, driest, hardest place,
or the way a friend will wrap her arms around you,
knowing without being told,
that your tears are about to flow.
you can see it each morning when the sun rises and warms the earth
sweeping away all the nightmares and the monsters;
you can feel it each evening, when mother tucks you into bed
and tells you she loves you like no one else in this world will ever love you –
aside from me.
“But I don’t understand!” said the pretty eyed girl.
are way, way too big for me!”
But someday they won’t be, answered the Raven. Someday, you will be bigger than these words. Trust me.
The little girl looked unconvinced. But the Raven pressed on:
And I must tell you as well,
as kind as this world can be,
as big, blue, and beautiful as it can be,
it can also sometimes, be very sad.
“Like now,” whispered the little girl.
Yes, replied the Raven.
Sometimes, continued the Raven,
this world will tell you one thing,
and then do something altogether different;
Sometimes, this world,
will do things that seem unfair and just plain wrong.
Yes, replied the Raven.
And sometimes, this world
will tempt you
with gifts and expectations and opportunities
that will fill your heart with joy
but, in the end, turn out to be nothing more than
scattered on your bedroom floor.
and what will you do then? asked the Raven.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I’m just a little girl. What shall I do?”
Well, then you will “Laugh!” replied the Raven.
“Because you have a super power.”
And what super power could I possibly have?” asked the little girl.
And here the Raven seemed to steady itself
and with some new found strength
in a voice
and so certain,
and so bursting with love,
that even the Gods
upon their marble thrones
bowed their heads
at the folly they had done!
and the little girl suddenly felt her new super power
and began to shiver
as though this new thing
were a thousand points of hot brilliant light
thrown down by heaven’s hand
that embraced her very soul,
coursed through her blood
laid a thousand angelic kisses upon her cheek
furiously wrapped her little broken heart
in layers upon layers
of sparkling, golden threads
in certainty of love
that it seemed to me,
the twilight gloom of this parking lot
was blasted into a shimmering crystal palace
Know that I am always behind you, continued the Raven.
applauding all that you’ve done!
Know that I am always beside you
urging you onward,
filling your lungs with the breath
And know that I am always in front of you
sweeping aside all doubt and insecurity
swooping you up in my strong feathered wings
as you collapse into the arms of triumph.
The Raven flapped its wings once, as though testing itself
Soon I will be of the air
upon the winds
over high mountain passes
sweeping low and fast
over steep river valleys
where the waters run deep and swift
like blue sapphire,
In every thing you do!
And know this one last thing to be absolutely true, said the Raven,
that I will leave tiny pieces of me everywhere
for you to find in the most unexpected places…
“Like a game! exclaimed the girl, now with the brightest of smiles on her face.
Like clues to a sacred bond, between you and me,
that can never be broken, no matter how far it is stretched, or tested
Not even if I circled the earth a thousand times
this bond would only pull tighter
and bring you closer to me!
I felt my hand let go of my cell phone then.
no need for proof
of this sparkling memory palace
that the bird and the girl had built
No need for distraction.
I was told once:
that if you stare at a mountain,
for even a while,
then look away, look back,
it will have changed.
stare with intent
at this same mountain,
for even just a little while,
then it will change you.
And so intent was I
upon this Raven,
that I did not see
the young girl’s mother
take her daughter’s hand
And then so quickly
hoisted itself into the air
on powerful wings
found a current,
higher and higher,
over the rooftops
till it pierced the low cloud banks
like an arrow shot straight and true
through the very heart of sadness
into eternal sunlight.
And the mother
hugged her daughter tightly
kissed the top of her head and
whispered something in her ear
that made the young girl smile
And as they walked away,
A perfect expression of love,
or I imagined
but I believe to this day:
that I saw
in the little girl’s hand
This poem was written in memory of our beloved FH Collins Grade Eight teacher Chris McNeill, who passed away in December of last year after a brief battle with Cancer. Annie is Chris’s young daughter.
(Matthew Brown December 10, 2014)