And then the Raven Came

by Laurie Schaad

Raven copy

And Then the Raven Came

I met a kindred spirit playing in the wind,

A wind so wild no other creature was around.

I was there on the moraine, 900 feet above the ground,

The ground around Wallowa Lake.

 

The wind was oh, so fierce that it would take your breath away;

That it would take your breath away from you.

 

So there I was, my spirit reaching for the sky;

Beaten upon and pummeled, oh, so wondrously was I,

By winds so wild—and oh, so strong—I sometimes could not stand,

But had to sit down on the land, or find a boulder I could lean upon.

 

I was in rapture on that day, alone in joy and clothed in wind—

Alone, until the raven came!

 

Then all at once, this joyous bird was there with me.

In all the vast expanse before me, I could see

No other creature anywhere, but this lone raven in the air,

Before my eyes, right there, in front of me!

 

And then he danced! And then he played!

He partnered with the wind on wings of ecstasy!

He rode those winds without a speck of fear—

A drunken sailor dancing on a rolling sea!

 

That raven climbed, upon the churning wind,

And, knocked about by it, he rose, and rose some more.

Then, as I wondered, far below, just what he did this for,

He shot a knowing look at me, and pointing his sharp raven’s beak Straight down, he faced directly to the distant, waiting ground.

 

In once swift movement then, too quick for me to see,

Folding his wings against his sides, he changed the game!

Fixed upon his target, he plunged straight down,

Down through that fearsome wind to meet what seemed to be his fate!

 

Then down and down, as quick as lightning flies, shot he,

Till I was sure that I was soon to see him die!

I held my breath as he hurled down, until, mere inches from the ground,

He rose, and climbed again, into the wind.

 

He rose so far—so far, and oh, so high—

Up through the wind that filled that waiting autumn sky,

Until he paused and hovered there, for one short breath, outside of time—

And then—straight down he plunged again!

 

And so it went: one raven dancing on a wind-swept stage;

His audience applauding him, as on and on he played

This role that he knew well. It was so plain that he could tell

That I shared his love of flight, his love of untamed winds of might,

 

And now, I realize at last that he had chosen to be there with me—  

That this wild raven chose to be right there, with me!

 

Spurred on by my pure wonder on that wind-swept afternoon,

A raven danced, and then, in spirit, I danced too.

Enthralled as one, we joined in play, on that enchanted autumn day,

Enthralled by Joy’s own aerial display.

 

I met a kindred spirit, playing in the wind,

A wind so wild, only two creatures were around.

It was there on the moraine, 900 feet above the ground—

The ground around Wallowa Lake.

So far above the ground…

Around Wallowa Lake.

 

From the Word and Image project at the Hoffman Center. Image by Ryan Pederson 2015