Her son chased crows and rats from the dying stalks.
Winter was coming.
Her belly rounded and swelled, heavy with the swan’s
child. She felt its darkness and she feared for its safety.
Crow man lay on his back in buffalo grass and watched
white clouds wither and break. Northern breezes hinted at frost
and he thought of clams buried in the sugary sand of the south.
Raven and wolf-girl waded through the tall grass
calling his name until their shadows surrounded him.
Raven said, “the manatees eat tasty grass in the bayou.”
Crow man smiled his crooked smile. He stood and adjusted the stag
horns he now wore. Dried feathers fell, wilted onto the earth.
He thought of the slow manatees
scouring the floor of the bayous,
saltwater bays, and estuaries.
He picked up his reed bag and checked his possessions:
cuckoo egg, peacock feather, rat’s bones, and dried gourd.
He was ready for his fool’s journey.
He would swim with the manatees,
ride their backs into the surf
and sing their oceanic songs.
He would blow the conch shell
and touch the second door.
With a hoot and howl
he struck out through the buffalo grass
with wolf girl snapping at his heels
and Raven above, shading him from the sun.