Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cold Blood

Her body was brutally impaled and dangling from a fence. There was a trace of dried blood on her breast, the last drops her wounded heart had managed to pump out before it stopped beating forever. The wind blew a snowdrift over the ground below her to obliterate the rest.

If any positive thought could arise from this killing, it would be that the victim was taken completely by surprise. Paranoia nor reasoned fears had not darkened her days or caused her to rearrange her daily life in some protective, cautious manner. She lived every day to the fullest, satisfied and confident even on that last one when it must have occurred to her that she was very much alone. Perhaps they had decided to grab a bite to eat elsewhere and had neglected to tell her, or perhaps the wind and the falling snow had caused others of her kind to seek shelter, leaving her there alone. Whichever the case, it didn’t matter to her and she chose from the take-out offerings. That day she was not missing the pressures her society of friends imposed at such times.

He had been watching her. She saw him approach and immediately sensed danger, but it was too late. She tried to flee, but he was too big and too fast for her, and even though she zig-zagged and ducked and tried to swerve and wrench from his grasp, she could not. Death followed, not quickly, but violently, as he used the fence’s sharp point to run her through.

The killer was known as The Butcher, a serial killer and a cannibal, but in this case he abandoned her wrecked body. Habit and perhaps the psychological hard-wiring of his brain - not hunger – had driven him this time, which shouldn’t surpise us, for even Hannibal Lecter ate only the sliced off cheeks of his first victim, choosing to waste the rest. If her friends and acquaintances ever noticed her disappearance, they showed no sign, and the police did not file a report. Wind and weather would soon erase the reality that was her.
I have the proof of his presence at the scene immediately before the violent act. My photograph, shown below, might be useful to any of you who might wish to do something to bring him to justice, but I urge you to let him be.



This is a Northern Shrike, a bird who feeds on large insects, rodents, snakes and small birds. The shrike is a rare visitor to our place in the forest, but his arrival clears all other birds from the bird-feeders.
This afternoon I noted the absence of our usual feathered friends. Seconds later, the shrike swooped down, startling the one chickadee who must have been oblivious to his presence. They flew across the frozen pond, twisting and diving, the smaller bird perhaps only two feet ahead of its pursuer, and disappeared from my view.
The shrike has no talons; it kills prey with its beak and by impaling it on something sharp such as a piece of fence wire or briar. I didn't actually see this, nor did I really find a bloodied body, but - inspired by Sling's blog yesterday - I thought it might make a good story... because it does happen. And, uh, before you tell me how grossed out you are, stop by a slaughter house - you know, the place that turns cows into those nice, neatly packaged steaks you occasionally enjoy.
photo of a plate in Birds of America, edited by T. Gilbert Pearson

The Wild Heart

howls in woods near by
footprints in snow make heart shape
call from valentine

haiku by Becky Harblin © copyright 2007
photo by WizenedEye © copyright 2007
From Coyote, Shaman and Wizard, Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

From the Playground

Shaman's words float into the forest, fall like snowflakes, and pile up on my computer in a lovely drift. Often they are the inspiration for a photograph, a pleasant prod that causes me to don my barn parka (because it's big enough for the camera to fit under) and skis or snowshoes and go off in search of something that will reflect or illustrate her poetic creation. It's a game we're playing. Our playground is a secret blog known only to us, where her words and my images mingle and balance, teeter-tottering together.

Crows have been scarce lately. "The King's Trees" has been hanging around my desk for a couple of weeks, waiting for me to get a shot at their "black and primal selves," and then, yesterday morning they finally heard their cue.

The King's Trees

One crow
on top of an oak tree,
another crow
sits, alert too,
on the neighbor tree,
a maple.
on the highest branches
their outstretched heads,
with penetrating eyes
on whatever suits
their black and primal selves.

Or maybe,
they are simply half asleep,
each humming a favorite tune.
As I used to do
as a child
who climbed and sat
in beautiful trees,
like the king.

By Becky Harblin © copyright 2007