It’s early morning and the artisanal coffee on which I’ve recently splurged combined with the blinding sunlight are making me hallucinate. I know that sounds weird, but a single cup of coffee can do that to me. Maybe I need to knock off the qigong. Anyway, I’m watching the sweet potato latkes on my breakfast plate breathe. They rise and fall, rise and fall, gasping for air like two fish out of water. Suddenly, I hear three caws from a crow as it flies south and its shadow disappears from the window. Caw! Caw! Caw! I hear with my normal hearing, but Abattoir! Abattoir! Abattoir! is what I hear inside my head which is also where I hear the text alert notification sounds at night whenever I’m being sent some kind of cosmic warning from who knows whom or what. Ding! Ding! Ding! Sometimes I have to ask it to stop or I can’t sleep through the night. The voices, too. Whoever sends them obviously has no perception of time, but apparently time is an invented concept that doesn’t actually exist. Even physicists believe that. So, my bad. You might also ask why sounds come in threes. Next, I put down my fork and walk toward the window, thinking the crow had been sitting on the outside ledge, but there’s really not much of a ledge out there on which to sit. When I happen to glance up at the sun, it’s being halved horizontally by the telephone wire that lines the street, and that is where the crow had to have been perched in order for its shadow to have been projected smack dab in the middle of my living room window. As strange an experience as when you find yourself underneath the shadow of a passing airplane but you don’t live anywhere near an airport. And once, reading Yusef Komunyakaa’s Blues Chant Hoodoo Revival (aloud) because as an actor this is my habit, a crow, possibly the same one (there’s a murder of five or six of them who live in the neighborhood), let out a blood-curdling shriek outside my window at the exact moment I uttered the lines:
feathers from a crow
from the furnace
Now, don’t tell me all this is a coincidence, my relationship with crows (not to mention geese, robins, jays and cardinals). And furthermore, I made a recent appeal to the ancestors (no particular ones) for assistance with dreamtime knowledge. I also ordered a book on the subject online and I immediately felt its power rattle my kitchen as I opened the box in which it arrived – not because a stack of bound paper has any intrinsic power, of course, but because the power of one’s intentions which have been projected upon it does. Intent = manifestation of desires. Not to be confused with magical thinking which, IMHO just unhinges people even further, and in a sanitized form is fraudulently promoted by popular talk show hosts who are completely full of shit. Oddly, I’ve never considered a tattoo before, but three artfully arranged crows in mid-flight sound intriguing as a dermal talisman of sorts. From the chair in which I’m sitting I can see them shadowed against a brightly lit window.
Helene Macaulay is an actor, writer, filmmaker and award winning documentary and fine art photographer living in the American Rust Belt. Her writing has appeared in Gyroscope Review, The Commonline Journal and Broad! Magazine. Her films have been broadcast on PBS affiliates throughout the Northeastern United States and her photography has been exhibited internationally including The National Portrait Gallery, London. Her acting credits include numerous films on the festival circuit as well as appearances on network and cable television and nationally syndicated radio.