The Raven and the Writing Desk


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A writing desk’s ode to her raven.


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Avril van der Merwe

What a lovely and original story!

The Raven and the Writing Desk

I feel the words seep through the paper, tattooed in ink from the knifed tip of a quill pen. In the beginning, I was still very much arboreal, freshly cut and carved into this four-legged beast, so the words meant little to me. But then I absorbed them, felt the sighs and swoons of the author who penned such sweet lyrics to his prized nymph sitting in the window across the courtyard. I swear there came a pulsating beneath my panels. I know humans have veins, blood, breath, all these things I do not. But, I swear, I began to believe that pulse I felt inside my body was, indeed, a heart.

I knew for sure that my heart truly existed the moment you alighted on the windowsill.

How different you were, so unlike the pastel wallpaper and velveteen carpet of my author’s study. You were a grand ebony emperor of the avian realm - dark as night, black as ink. You rang of a familiar note, and I wondered if, perhaps, my author had written about you. Then the craving to sketch you, the desire to bring you home to the tree I once was, beat in my breast. More than this, I wanted to hear what song you kept sequestered in your throat – was it a gentle coo like the doves? A piccolo trill of a sparrow? As if you heard my wish, you unlocked the secret of your charcoal beak and grinded the air with your rough, raw caw.

What strange music! I dreamt the ink spots on my chest could form notes, a sonata of your sweetness, but then the weight of the truth settled on my frame. What did I know of your music? I was familiar with human tongue, but what of yours? What did we share, that you could understand my adoration of you? How is a raven like a writing desk?

One day, my author left the window open in the summer heat. There you were on the sill, peaking in with midnight eyes. In you fluttered, courage triumphing over caution, and then the patter of your scaled feet was upon my breast. You were transfixed by the quill pen in the ink pot, and tenderly you lifted the pen by its plumed tail in your beak. I felt a scream within me, wait! I need that! My author needs that! How can we sing of our loves, or fears, our dreams, without that pen?

You paused, as if regarding my silent cries. Then, with a burst of wing, you took off, leaving behind one black feather that fell stray.

I realize, there will always be pens. There is always more paper, more ink. But there is but one love I felt for you, one moment in time when we were together. Not in written word, not in song, not in deep-scratched scars did we know one another, but in silence.

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