Back to being a boy: for a long period of time I had lived as a raven, a black, brooding crow that sulked and hovered, perched squinting on fences and picked at whatever bones and carcases I could find. I existed more comfortably than you might think because there is a great deal of unnoticed death in the world and as a bird that feeds on carrion I quickly realised that my nourishment was to be found everywhere. The key thing is, as a raven you are never too picky or choosy. Food is food and the tragic or otherwise circumstances of your meal’s ultimate end are of little concern as you consume and convert the protein. So I lived freely as a feathered parasite, nodding and blinking, avoiding those who considered me to be ugly or unlucky and I got on with my job of stealing the meals of maggots, ants and insects and the great dark crows that showed only contempt from the lesser species they saw as rooks. I was myself and my other occasional rook colleagues as community servants, clearing and cleaning in pursuit of some possible higher but unseen purpose as we kept our part of some celestial bargain made between Mother Nature, the many gods and the lesser and more stupid beings known as men. In all this time I never did realise that I was under an enchantment, I was to busy to think of these things, that is until I felt the breath of a dream on one dark November night.
In the dream I was human, more human that raven, dark haired, dark eyed and walking upright looking across to the setting sun and the great coal black clouds that rolled across it’s path. The dream, the first I had ever experienced lasted all night and as I walked, as a man across what seemed like an entire continent. So as this journey unfolded I realised I was not alone, hopping and flying beside me from hedge to fence post to bush was a raven. He would catch me, then fall back, then catch me, then glare at me, always out of reach. Every so often he’d tap his beak against a branch or a stump, tapping three or four times then carrying on and keeping up with me. The rhythm of the tapping began to form a regular beat and I realised that he was trying to communicate with me. I concentrated and listened to the taps. I heard the tap sound clearly but as I focused in on the pattern I heard another sound, a sound hardly there but formed at a lower level on the spectrum. A dry, delicate sound you had to listen hard to and almost squeeze like water droplets from the air. The sound was muddy, indistinct but, like the tapping it formed a regular rhythm and bit by bit the more I listened the more detail I was able to draw out. I listened hard for a long time, I worried that my dream time would be used up and the sound would be lost as I awakened, but I dreamt on and the sound built itself together as the raven kept pace with me.
“Edgar Allan Poe”, it tapped, “Edgar Allan Poe”. I spoke the words out loud, the first words I’d ever spoken either as a man , boy or a raven, “Edgar Allan Poe!”. As I heard the detail of the name and said it aloud the raven gave an appreciative “Caw, caw!” and hammered it’s beak on to a branch in a flamboyant, exuberant way, flapped it’s wings and flew away across the fields, over trees into the distance and out of sight. I never saw that bird again and I never did wake up from the raven dream and my name (once I had discovered it and that is another story altogether) is not Edgar Allan Poe.