There is one with a head like mine; snow drop white that takes on new life in the moonlight. We have spoken soft whispers between winged flight and the taste of wet dusk. Her weathered sounds are soft, deep, coercing, and bide a gentle remedy to the crows’ heavy bickering.
Before the fog settled upon these lands, we used to be the tellers. Now those tamed creatures wade into our night without asking permission and without greeting us. I watch them as they lose their way. They light up the night with an odd humming, morphing fire into solid form. I can hear him groan to be so small. The snow drop one still leaves her nest and speaks sometimes, hobbling on her heavy bones through her flowered beds.
We winged ones can carry messages, collecting them as they dance through the forest or across the open valley. The tamed ones used to know that. They stopped listening to us soon after they stopped listening to death and soon after they stopped listening to our night. This is where the music is of course – the songs that stir us into union – nestled in the deepest pockets of the darkest moments. I listen as I glide and dive towards the rustling chorus to find my prey. How I love to hold their softness between my beak and quieten their tones of despaired separation to live on in my flight.
There are not many of my kind these nights. We bring focus and peace to our sentient family whilst they sleep, yet lately I have heard tossing and turning, thumping hearts and unanswered yearning. I no longer hear the striped faced ones and I miss their grunts as they play with their young. A few moons ago I found a family on the edge of my night flight, returning to their burrowed wombs of soil veined in root.
I hear fast things and know they are not living. They make their own trails at war with Her channels. They move through mountain and over our waters, and they did not ask us permission. We would have said no, stay slow, heavy ones, stay slow and watch where you tread. We spoke it into the the dreamworld, but they stopped listening there too.
We, who hold the spirit of this land, miss the dawns of telling. We used to like the tamed ones for it is only they who can transmute the voices of the mystery into new shapes and melodies. We like the open spaces they used to build, helping us keep our feathers dry in wet or frozen moons. And they used to grieve so beautifully, weeping songs into the earth. We would stay nearby, listening, waiting and telling. The veil between night and day is soft and as a being passes from one form to the subtle, we hear their soul. They ask us to tell the ones who remain living. It is our honour to be the tellers.
There is so much noise now, I can barely hear the music that guides me to my sustenance. The passing ones often sound lost too. They do not whisper to us because they have forgotten they can. They fight their flight between day and night, clinging to their treasured shapes and words. They no longer sing with us. They no longer reply to my piercing screech as I shoot an arrow from my heart into midnight’s abyss.
Snow drop is on her knees pressing seeds into the earth in early damp dusk when I hear the whisper lick the leaves of the Ash I perch upon. This is the last Ash for many miles, her roots must have been so strong. She is dying now, as too is the whisper so I must listen and act quickly.
Before I can falter my wings are gliding me silently to snow drop’s bow. I throw the whisper to her and she looks up and sees me. Her face lifts in delight for a beat before sinking towards her hands. I continue along the silver hedgerows who glow with the early moonrise, but decide to keep an eye on old snow drop for some nights.
A storm raptures her nest. The fast things arrive with new tamed ones. They carry him off, which upsets his soul gravely. They linger you see, close to their bodies, watching over the weepers. The flower beds bordered them as they spoke stories into the sad eyes of snow drop, who seemed to be sitting subliminally within the veil between the living and dead, eyes misted, fingers numb.
They used to send the dead on well. Now they tend to take the ceremony to a hidden place unfamiliar to the souls who danced with life. They would sing songs with drums made from the giant ones’ backs, with feathers we would gift them on windy nights or after tempered fights. We would hear the heartbeat across the land carried in the winds of change. We listened and grieved together, sharing the ocean.
I keep Snow drop company – our time between day and the depths of night lengthen for us to compose our ritual. Sometimes I hear whispers that she revels in, knowing its him, me, her, us. My eyes hold the darkness of a thousand and one nights, yet how they catch the strands of stories; antennae white hair she refused to cut short like the other old ones. Barn Owl, she calls me, when she is visited by her granddaughter. They build a shelter, an invitation to stay close. I accept and decide to nest for I’m fond of the ones who listen. The ones who dare to remember.