Die, die, the Old Crow kept cawing. Was he talking to me? Here in the Old Poet’s Home, only I can hear him. Maybe someday you will too, when you’re older. Despite his contention, I must admit I admire the luminous sheen of his midnight coat. Still, the greater truth is that he frightens me. Yes, even more than the damn attendants who have left me wet in bed. I pray one fine spring day a merciless rain will wash away the town’s dam and flood the Old Poet’s Home out of business drowning any reminder of the Kingdom of Winter, whose emperor is the Old Crow.
Many years ago my wife, now deceased, who would have never forgotten my bed pan, found a burnt fox skull in a field the owner had set to fire to clear it of weeds in preparation for planting. Despite the searing heat, the sharp teeth were left intact, although blackened; but the most remarkable trait was the hollow eyes that stared at us no matter where we placed it—on a table, or shelf, or even in a box in the closet. Sockets so empty, so hollow nothing could escape their gaze. Was it all simply a reminder of the headlong descent into the center of nothingness that awaits us?
Today, I am a survivor, but of what? My wife and all of my dear old friends are gone. And yet, this desire to write, to tell the truth, to say something that needs to be said still haunts me like the feverish waking from a dream. Is that why I can hear the Old Crow—or could there be some road that sings for me to follow; or is time for me to die. Die? I crawl out of bed, no small feat, stand gingerly, drop into my wheel chair and roll to the window. When I shoo the Old Crow from a garbage bin—the fox’s skull teeters amid the swill, and flames shoot out of his eye socket, like mine.