We are Like Ravens

The raindrops are gray ravens, their call resounding in his ears and brushing at his full cheeks with a feathery and woeful constant. He exhales spirit mists into the blue dawn and rests his tired spine against the slippery wooden bones of the hut’s exterior. There has been a sound in his mind since she left, something like a sigh, a whisper, or a wanting suggestion of desire on the wind, the kind that whistles through the trees and around mountain passes during the winter’s coldest chill.

He pushes his bare toes into the black earth and reaches, eyes closed, for the worn wooden lyre at his side. The sky’s weeping moistens and swells the soundbox and bridge, and like tears on lashes, it slips off the horsehair strings. He is a dark echo of Freyr, conjuring the day’s weeping with his existence, but revolving and drowning in this boggy domain so far in his mind from anything that resembles a shining sun.

Discomfort and longing gather at his brow when he plucks the first note. It’s a slight sound, just a tinkling shake that vibrates along the edges of the drops that have gathered on the wool at his wrist, the ritual weave of his beard, and the line of his eyes.

A sudden wind whips, bringing with it the sensation of soil, needles and sap, hide and skin, iron, and sanguine charge. His pulse skips and pounds with urgency against delay, and he strums the lyre abruptly, forcing it to shout to the dark day, demanding attention from nature’s plain, the beasts, the gods, and the unbearable elemental onslaught that claws and rips at his mind, breaking through ribs and pulling his heart from its cage.

Shifting uncomfortably, he scans the creeping fog that hangs in the mountains beyond a thick forest of trees. A white bird extends broad wings and coasts on the updraft of the air-tide. His fingers work at the lyre’s strings, conjuring from it a melody that resonates like a lament, and he chants words against the rain.

Where have you gone, totem bird?
Will you show me the path home?
So I can see your shining eyes,
and know your wisdom.

I cannot feel my heart,
it has gone with you,
to a place I can only find
with what I have lost.

We are like ravens,
soaring over forests so far apart,
and I am guided by Víðarr
to retrieve my stolen heart.

Where have you gone, totem bird?
Can you hear this song?
One washed with Sjöfn’s very tears.
I am diminished in this solitude.

I cannot feel my heart,
it has gone with you,
to a place I can only find
with what I have lost.

His touch is delicate and pointed on the strings as he repeats in a whisper the incantations of a song newly born.

… to a place I can only find
with what I have lost.

The rain soon becomes a deluge, and he is sodden, dripping and used. He replaces the lyre cautiously to his side under the hut’s straw overhang and rests his arms on his knees, his palms facing up in a silent plea toward the sky. The pounding downpour wicks at his skin like the stinging flap of wings. Like a raven’s.

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