A Conspiracy of Ravens

June 18

I return to the trail that once shook me off and this time I hold tight. I won’t let the wily beast cheat me again. As the trail careens up the mountain, a brook chases along beside it. The water is red-stained, as if someone upstream is bleeding freely. If I were a witch I would be able to read red, but I am illiterate in blood’s language of A’s and B’s.

On a ridge I see a conspiracy of three ravens. They are as black and glossy as if they just spilled from the pen of Edgar Allan Poe. When they’ve plotted their treachery, the conspirators scatter, hurling themselves to the thermals and riding high. One raven croaks a warning in the scorched voice of a smoker. But I don’t speak Raven either.

I climb so high that I can see mist brimming over the ridge below. The white tide rises, marooning me on the mountaintop. Soon the flood engulfs even this Ararat and I am set adrift in a sea of spray. This is the species of mist that drowned Macbeth in fatal divinations. This is the mist that turns mountains into days of grey ocean. This is the cataract that blinds the third eye. I cannot see five minutes ahead in this fog.

Then the wind catches up with me. It jibbers in my ears, but I can’t understand a syllable of wind-tattle. The wind lashes the lake, raising welts that look like fish scales. When the sky breaks out in a rash of rain, I just laugh. Three times I was warned, and heedless I pressed on.

Apologizing to my boots, I splash from stone to stone, hopscotching across the drowned mountaintop. Solid ground dissolves beneath my feet as marsh-grass gives way to water. Yet as the North Sea pours from the sky, the mist ignites with sterling fire. It is as if the sky-mesh has netted a tide of fish, filling the mist with silver. The sky strains to hold all that light. The mist is stretched so thin that I can see its veins.

On the other side of the mountain, the rain still falls like steel tacks. And no one cares. A rainbow of hikers spans the trail, whole families storming the mountain in their dayglow slickers. They too have ignored the portents, the ravens and meteorologists. If Scandinavians paid heed to forecasts, they would never leave the hearth. We would never have had Vikings or wergild or outlaw-sagas. I would never have come to Norway. I would not be standing on the shore of this lake where the fir trees have snared the Aurora in their outstretched fingers. Green as foxfire, the light gleams on their needles. Seabirds with boomerang-wings wheel above the lake. Though far from home, they linger here, looking for something in their idle circling.


2 thoughts on “A Conspiracy of Ravens

  1. Granny comments: ” does the sun every shine there?”
    About the photos of Lucy:”how does she do that? caught in midair! It is darling.”


    1. Yes, the sun is rather shy in Norway. To capture that photo I shanghaied a fellow hiker to hold my phone, and when I leapt in the air, she was able to snap several pictures before I landed thanks to my camera’s quick shutter-speed.


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