Interview with the raven

“Our favourite human EVER was Genghis Khan.
That man knew how to put on a spread.”

Raven Mythology #5

by Joe Ben Raven via Doug Sack

Doug Sack: Do you solemnly swear the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you Odin?
Joe Ben Raven: Gurgle. (Yes.)
Sack: State your full name for the record, please.
JBR: Joseph Benjamin Raven.
Sack: Age?
JBR: 793 Moons, give or take.
Sack: That’s roughly 61 years.
JBR: Is it?
Sack: Where were you hatched?
JBR: In the high northern tundra, close to the Arctic Circle. My flock was following the Porcupine caribou herd when I cracked the eggshell and dazzled them with my charismatic presence. I was their first hatchling in five years and they were happy to see me. My brother and three sisters showed up right behind me. We had normal chicklet experiences while growing up, including being rude and rowdy gang members.
Sack: So why did you pick me to be the one to speak with?
JBR: I didn’t pick anything. I was just looking for something to eat that day on the Dempster when you suddenly started talking to me. I couldn’t have been more surprised. My father told me our flock had been looking for a “raven talker” for over 700 years, but you were the first to show up. It was big news in the raven world when you and I started talking.
Sack: Why?
JBR: To set the record straight! You crazy humans with your endless wars, gold rushes and haywire religious beliefs have painted us over the centuries as some kind of evil bird, harbingers of death, disease and doom, instruments of the macabre side of life.
Sack: Poe didn’t help either.
JBR: Poe schmoe. He wasn’t one per cent of it. We tried to make contact with him, by the way, in about 1845 when he made us famous, but he was too drunk and grieving his wife’s death. He was a mess at the end of his short life. Nevermore, my ass.
Sack: Who do you blame for your sordid, grisly and disgusting reputation?
JBR: It just comes with being an aggressive scavenger. Of course we were always seen on bloody battlefields after a war. That’s called “party time” to a raven. We love raw meat and you humans are the tastiest of all mammals, by far.
Sack: Really? Which humans were the best eating in history?
JBR: Our elders say Mongolians. Our favourite human ever was Genghis Khan, who massacred millions on the Asian Steppes, then left them for us and the wolves to clean up. That man knew how to put out a spread. Life has never been that good since. They like to say his grave was never found and it never will be because we attended his “sky burial” and ate him.
Sack: How long will ravens live?
JBR: As long as it takes to clean up the planet after you sloppy humans are dead and gone. Har har.
Sack: Do ravens really mate for life?
JBR: What does “mate” mean?
Sack: Marry. One male, one female, fall in love, make little birdies, spend your lives together like northern lovebirds?
JBR: Who told you that?
Sack: Everybody.
JBR: Marriage is a human invention and humans haven’t been around very long. We were here before the dinosaurs. We pair up for survival and hunting reasons, not procreation.
Sack: So where do all the little birdies come from?
JBR: A giant black stork bigger than an ostrich delivers them to the good ravens on All Birds Day.
Sack: You aren’t going to tell us how big ravens create little ravens?
JBR: What happens in the nest stays in the nest.
Sack: OK. What’s your favourite colour?
JBR: That’s a tough one. I’ll go with black.
Sack: What’s your favourite pastime other than eating human flesh?
JBR: High altitude soaring on windy days. Just close your eyes and let the wind carry you away. It’s the best high of them all.
Sack: What are the others?
JBR: Half frozen engine oil from bulldozers and trucks is quite a buzz and lasts for 10 hours. And any fermented berries in late summer and early autumn, what you humans call getting drunk. I’ve always been fond of fermentation. It’s like magic. Boring, tasteless little berries suddenly turn into rocket fuel! I love to climb high and dive drunk.
Sack: Other than ravens, what are your favourite birds?
JBR: That’s a personal call but I like eagles and owls, two fellow scavengers which are also birds of prey. Nothing else hunts at night quite like an owl. They’re impressive, hunt all night and sleep all day, just the opposite of us. I also like all the cute little songbirds that show up in spring. I have a secret fantasy to be an Arctic tern who migrates every year from here to Antarctica. Those suckers can lock their wings at high altitudes in the wind currents and sleep while they’re flying! Can’t even imagine doing that. I’d run into a tree for sure. Hummingbirds blow my mind too.
Sack: There are 18,000 species of birds in the world. Do you have any idea how many of them are ravens?
JBR: Nine.
Sack: How many in North America?
JBR: Two. We are called Corvus Corax, common raven, and the white-necked Chihuahuan ravens in southwest USA and Mexico. We call them snowbirds because of their weird white collar. Almost as silly-looking as magpies, who we call Oreos.
Sack: Least favourite bird?
JBR: That’s easy: Seagulls in general and Jonathon Livingston Seagull in particular.
Sack: Why?
JBR: The key word is “Kleptoparasitism” but don’t get me started! I’ll tell you next time. Gotta find something to eat now. First things first.
Sack: Thank you for this.
JBR: No, Grrrronku.

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