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vol vi, issue 1 < ToC
The Crow-People
by Adele Gardner
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The Crow-People
by Adele Gardner
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Elemental
The Crow-People
by Adele Gardner
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Elemental
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Straw Man




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Elemental
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Elemental
The Crow-People  by Adele Gardner
The Crow-People
 by Adele Gardner
Walking through the carnival waltz.
Sedate, stately, they stand so still,
then burst into sudden, fluttering life:
pointed beaks pointing your way.
I love her, you know:
my sweet little demon,
piping Halloween carols;
my raven girl, how you squawk.

Inviting the blank-faced gentlemen to a tea party.
You don’t want to see them across the table—
glance up, catch a glimpse of that nothing face
inclining so politely. Position them
like mirrors to catch Medusa, only they are
also Medusa herself: each sitting catacorner,
these tengu, silent, menacing,
faceless faces facing each other,
facing you, with hooked beaks like hats atop their heads
that might peel your face off, then gulp it down
with these same deep-waisted bows
and nods of such extreme politeness,
their silence a terrible, stretched courtesy.

The ravens come out for Halloween.
A foggy London night. Big Ben. Those pealing bells.
Long black curls, black dresses edged with lace.
Silver buckles on pointed black shoes, and hose
so dark it's part of the night behind it.
Victorian England, gaslight, carefully veiled faces—only
these black kerchiefs over noses, mouths, and eyes
are thick enough to ward off the Black Death—
so thick it could be anyone in there—
man, woman, alien, murderer—hiding in a shivery disguise
that mocks our courteous society.
"The silent ones"—these crow-people—
stalk as tall as man-sized storks, like skeletons on stilts—
an autumn invasion of blank, black-faced monsters.
Look close and see they have feathers for hair,
feathers for fur, fear for eyes—these
ladies and gentlemen who cuddle their ravens so gently,
who stroke their crows, petting and protecting them,
who leap up themselves to perch on cast-iron lamps
and the tented tops of wheat sheaves.
Such gentlemen and ladies, whose lace is finest cobwebs,
whose lantern-lights gleam orange, with garish faces—
toothsome pumpkins exposing the grins they lack themselves.

The silent ones wear no masks.
They simply have no faces.
Black blanks suggest the many ghosts
they stand in for, placeholding statues,
menace in stillness, their rare movements a relief
as, stiff with fright, we run
from these grim spirits of Halloween
who only incline the head, tip the hat,
curtsy with black-lace parasol,
black curls bobbing above black lace collars—
the raven king's man, the crow-sisters,
uncharacteristically watching, waiting,
their faces blank with all the ghosts they might be,
if only you could listen—
if only their mouths could open wide,
revealing those hidden teeth.

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