Jun 24, 2024

The Raven

Raven at Galleon Beach Feb 2021


A white raven flew in front of my car while I headed up HWY 19 past Qualicum Beach. 
The bird seemed to glide. 
Its wings pressed against its body as it floated past my windshield.
A surreal experience I took as an omen.  
It was the early morning of Friday, August 13th, 2021, and I was on my way back from Vancouver after 
unsuccessfully trying to secure a place to live. 
When I arrived home an hour later, my cat was dying. 

Hwy 19 where I saw the white raven

The monarchs of the island. 
The ravens were a constant fixture on my property, yet I hardly saw them. 
I knew they were there. My silent companions.
Watching me. I could feel them. 
I'd hear their deep gargling call and look into the Firs, yet see nothing. 
I talked to them every day. 
I asked them to give me a hand in the yard, 
asked them questions, 
and expressed my overall exasperation with my situation. 
They often blew by me, just overhead. 
I wouldn't see them coming; they'd just blow by. 
Gone before the sound of the broken air faded. 

In early September, a week before I left the island, a raven came to me in my yard. 
It sat in the grand cedar that guarded the grave of the little bird that died in the heat dome. 
On the tree's lowest branch, it sat unobstructed, watching me. 

It was lunchtime, and I was at the picnic table my dad built for me. 
My heart was heavy with grief. 
Grief over the loss of Flo. 
Grief that I had to sell the home that I loved. 
Grief that my dad was given just a few months to live 
and grief that the pandemic still raged.

The raven sat motionless. 
We looked each other in the eyes 
Hello. It's nice to finally meet you. Would you like to join me for lunch? 
 ~This ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling ~

My dad built me the picnic table and benches. I had to leave them behind.

I'd brought out stuff to make an avocado sandwich, but I'd forgotten my napkin in the kitchen. 
I told the raven not to eat my lunch while I went back inside. 
When I returned - no more than thirty seconds later, 
all that remained of the avocado was the spotless pit. 
The tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, cheese, and bread – all still there. 
I was confused by how fast the theft happened. 
I'd left numerous meals outside unattended, and nothing was ever touched. 

I went to the cabin to get another avocado. 
When I opened the door, the raven landed atop it. 
I'd experienced so many unexplainable things during my time on Hornby that 
nothing shocked me anymore. 
I smiled at the bird. 
Did you fly in from the Night's Plutonian shore? 
I almost expected it to answer, Nevermore to my obvious Poe reference. 

Unafraid, the raven perched on my open door, watching me in the kitchen. 
He didn't flinch as I made my way out back to my lunch.
Facing the bird while I ate, I asked him about his day,
his thoughts and
whether that was the first avocado he'd tried.
He didn't move his eyes from me. 
It'd be a lie if I said I wasn't a bit nervous. 
A sound in the woods made me briefly turn my head from our conversation. 
I turned back, and the raven was gone. 

leaving

During my last few days on the island, 
I looked for my silent companion, 
talked to him, 
and called out to him, 
but there was nothing. 

The day to leave my home had come —my final goodbye. 
Holding back tears, I locked the door the raven had perched on, 
put the key under the mat and 
headed out the side gate. 
The raven landed atop. 

My heart dropped.
Knowingly, we looked into each other's eyes, 
My friend. Thank you. 
I walked over to my car parked at the driveway gate, 
and the raven followed. 
He perched atop the gate. 
I got in my car and backed out of the driveway for the last time.
The raven watched me as I pulled away.

The Wind