The Raven

rqavenHe came out of nowhere, for no reason we could discern.  We’d done nothing to encourage or entice him, but he came anyway, of his own volition and wild free will.

He’d perch on mum’s shoulder and beak her hair gently, gurgling a throaty ‘kraaw’, nibbling her ear or poking her cross and chain.  He liked shiny things as magpies are supposed to.  We’d offer the silver coins from milk bottles and he’d find things we didn’t know we possessed: a ring pull in the flower bed, a metal pin in the yard, a sparkle of yarn from the dog kennel.

Sometimes he bought us gifts, left them on the bird table or window ledge or delivered them into our curious hands: a snail’s shell, a stone, a twig, a feather, and once a coin.  We didn’t know what to do with his tokens, though never wished to offend.  I hoarded the treasures like priceless gems.

This wild and magnificent creature visited us for months; for maybe as much as a year he brightened our lives.  My mum loved him, I knew.  I rarely saw her smile so much as when he landed heavy on her head or perched on her arm.

We assumed he was a ‘him’ although I’ve no idea how you’d tell.  We never named him.  We knew we could not claim him.  He visited on a whim of his own choosing, sometimes every day, sometimes missing days here or there.  And inevitably, one day, he didn’t come back.  We looked for him, we searched the skies full of other birds.  We listened for his call, but all we heard were the noisy crows and footballers in the rec’.  Mum stared at the window every morning and seemed, for a long time, lost.  I missed his shiny black coat, impenetrable and mesmerising.  I missed his wily, knowing eye where wild intellect sat.  And we were all sad for a time.

I blamed my mum.  She’d found my treasure hoard and thrown it out, in flagrant disregard for his feelings – and mine.  In summer when we turned the flower bed into a rockery we uncovered a cache of curios. I knew that he’d left them for us and I cried bitter tears of loss and rage.

I disremembered the raven soon enough.  As I grew, teenage temptations drew me to other worlds less natural: dens of darkness and artificial light, thumpy music and the crush of bodies; the thrill of boys, and so I forgot.

It took the boy with the jet black hair, the pale skin and black knowing eyes, to remind me of such beauty and enchantment lost.


Picture from RSPB archives

10 thoughts on “The Raven”

  1. Monica Ross says:

    Lovely story… poignant and thoughtful. We used to a blackbird that used to come often in the garden to be fed raisins. I like the fact that a beautiful wild creature would trespass into suburbia.
    I look forward to reading more

    1. Debbie says:

      Thanks for your kind comments. We lived in London at the time. I was always amazed by the amount of wildlife. And always felt very privileged.

  2. Tony Ross says:


    I’ve always adored these majestic birds (despite the odd “get out of my garden” scream at them).

    1. Debbie says:

      Yes, majestic and fascinating. Thanks.

  3. Paula says:

    Lovely atmospheric piece. Have always felt that the corbids are actually shapeshifters and watching our every move (probably thinking how daft we are). I especially love the way they walk when they can’t be bothered to fly!

    1. Debbie says:

      Thanks. Yes. You may be right there! They certainly have a ‘look’ about them that you just know is intelligence and mystery. See Val’s comments too!

  4. Val Harmer says:

    Lovely musings Deb, the memories so vivid.
    The raven is probably the world’s most intelligent and playful bird. In the world of myth, it is a bird of paradox, and something of a dark clown. In Welsh folklore, Bran the Blessed (Bran is Welsh for raven) is a kind of primordial deity and guardian of Britain whose totem is a raven. Arthur, another legendary guardian of Britain, is also associated with ravens. In Cornwall, which is also steeped in Celtic lore, it was believed that Arthur didn’t really die, but was magically transformed into this bird.

    1. Debbie says:

      Thanks Val. That’s really interesting stuff. There were ravens in the ballet last night interestingly too!

  5. Barbara says:

    Goodness! Really evocative! You’re good Debbie! Don’t ever doubt it! x

    1. Debbie says:

      Thanks Barbara. Appreciate the encouragement. It’s kind of you. x

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