Wednesday, May 03, 2006


So I am reading this book called "Ravens in Winter". I chose it because I am interested in natural history, and because I liked the title. It made me think of Stevens's "13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird", and Poe's raven, and all the crows I've known in parts of California, and I thought, cool, this will be all poetic, but what I forgot was the real truth of nature--it's not just a metaphor. It's an organism that lives and dies and eats--bent on survival.

So there I was last night, happily reading about how ravens swoop and roll and dive and execute amazing flight manoevers in their courtship flights, thinking, what a groovy bird, how amazing, and reading about Odin's ravens riding on his shoulders, and reading all sorts of other tidbits--scraps of flesh, if you will, about ravens, and then I come to the passage that says, roughly:

Ravens, hunting in pairs, will pluck out and eat the eyes of newborn baby reindeer.

Right. after. they. emerge. from. the. womb.

while they are still alive

They also aggressively seek to divide the newborn reindeer from its parents, attack it, and kill it.

Suddenly I'm thinking of Hitchcock's "the Birds". Suddenly I'm picturing bleating, blinded, baby reindeer, and I'm thinking of my own precious eyes, the little brown jellies, eyes that I think of as "mine", that could easily, easily, be taken by birds. It is fascinating to think of one's eyes--organs of sight, of identity, our primary sense any more, our primary fascination--to think of them as FOOD. It really shifts your perspective. It's a chilling but helpful meditation, I think.

I mean, what do people get complimented on most often? Their eyes. What's the first thing we do in the morning? Open our eyes. They're the gates between "us" and "them"--they bring the world into us.

Now imagine them being eaten.

Plucked out, pierced, digested, and plopped from the cloaca to the ground.

Interesting, huh?

Nothing really belongs to anything or anyone. Not the eyes in your head, not the meat on your bones. Sometimes I think the world's main activity is eating itself.

Are my eyes bigger than a raven's stomach?
Turns out, the answer is no.


Blogger Jonnie 7-11 said...

Ted Hughes' book of "Crow" poems is worth a read too! I love that book. It's one I kept after my mass weeding.

9:54 PM  
Blogger AEP said...

I will definitely check that out. Apparently Hughes's writing is brutal.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Jonnie 7-11 said...

Crow is way brutal and also really weird. Two great qualities that you usually don't find together. Plus it's short and doesn't take too much of your time.

6:54 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home