I set off at dawn this morning on the hill trail, with the dogs and four small apricots fresh from our tree. After the second hill I came to the manzanita decorated with old, stuffed animals. Who left them there, and for what reasons I can’t know. But suddenly it felt important to leave my plumpest apricot there, wedged on a deep red branch between puppies and teddy bears bleached white by sun and rain. The sacrifice was an impulse as ancient and ordained as drawing breath. The act came not from my head but from the marrow of my bone. The gods ask for what they want. Listening with blood instead of ears, we hear their charge.
Like yesterday. Driving home I flushed a crow from the road. Just around the bend I passed it’s dead companion. Instinctively I thought to stop and move it’s body off the road. Logically, I kept driving. Yet the impulse whispered. Crows, all the corvids are social creatures. Worried another would get hit while keeping vigil, I turned around. Pulling off on a dirt drive, I picked up the bird. It was warm and limp. I smoothed it’s feathers and laid the black body in weeds by the edge of the drive where it’s family could safely mourn. I don’t know that crows mourn. That might well be a fully human interpretation. But I do know they search for missing flock members. The dead bird was part of some crow’s flock, maybe the crow that had been pacing in the road. I don’t know. But I do know that moving the lifeless body off the road felt like an honoring, an abeyance to something old and wordless that speaks only in the whispery language of blood and bone.
I got back in the car and drove home, hte words of blood and bone stilled, the rough, old gods appeased.