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February 27, 2013
What the Raven Dropped

This is the twig in question.
This is the twig in question.
Two days ago, on a clear winter afternoon, two ravens sailed back and forth over the edge of a desert cliff in Utah. As I walked below them, they vocalized with quorks and grumbles, their shadows flashing across me as they broke the sun. One was carrying a twig in its beak.

With flagrant, corvid panache, the raven with the twig transferred it from beak to talons. Clutching it in both talons, the dark bird turned 40 feet overhead looking down. Then it let go and the twig spiralled down.

I've had ravens shit toward me from a hundred feet in the shadowy depths of the Grand Canyon. They've dropped pebbles and twigs in the desert of southeast Utah. Not frequently mind you, I've had this happen maybe once a decade. I'm not quite sure how to take it, gift or warning. Or just saying, Hey, talk to us! Tricksters. Tool users. In this barren, sensual country of rock, ravens are sometimes the only moving things.

The twig was shaped and released so that it did not merely tumble through the air, but twirled down, landing on a snowbank beside me.

The raven who did the deed then flew off, rolling, dipping, and calling as its voice trailed away.


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