Raven, as gravel-voiced as Tom Waits, announced his arrival. I offered a flat hand, palm up, as one would to a dog, my mother’s voice in my ear, “Always palm up, so they won’t be threatened,” she’d whisper, the thin white scar from the bite embroidered right above her eyebrow. Big dogs scared her. She tried to pass on her fears to me, but I decided to just be polite to the muscled boxer down the street, saying “Excuse me,” if I ran by him.
“Don’t run; he’ll chase you. They can smell fear,” warned my mother, but for much of my life I have smelled like musk and exotic flowers.
Raven released a silvery roundel that fit well into the palm of my hand. The sun’s shadow quivered like a hound as tiny animal shapes in turquoise and black marble moved restlessly around the sides.
Raven danced next to me, scratching out a tune in the dirt as I examined the intricate inlay of purple sugalite, orange coral and bright turquoise.
Wings whisked the air as he lofted onto my shoulder, nuzzling his beak into my hair.
“What is this?” I asked him as he preened me, rubbing his head against mine, combing through my hair with his beak, tickling along my hairline.
“Pay attention to what I’ve brought you,” he murmured.
I stroked his head and back, trying to read the compass of my heart.