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Find new, previously unpublished works by our site’s founder, Portia Graf. Read original poetry, prose, short stories, novel excerpts, and more, only available here.

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The Crows

As I pull into the driveway, rattling over every bump and hole in the dirt, I am taken aback. Huge masses of sleek black feathers and beady eyes litter my front lawn. Crows: the messengers stripped by the gods of their white purity for gossip, now only speaking their grotesque caw when absolutely necessary. My mother and brother are too absorbed in their bickering to take notice. They stumble up towards the old brick ranch house, their snide remarks bouncing off of the foothills in tonal echoes. The grass looks like a battlefield, rotting to gray and red dirt, scattered with these beasts. "Caw! Caw! Caw!" All at once, they disperse into the graying sky, leaving me alone to decipher their message.

With a sharp click, I stumble through the door myself in a crackling bundle of overfilled grocery bags. They are still at it. I shove the cumbersome plastic down my coat sleeves into a heap on the dining room table. A sharp chill floats through the broken windowpane in the kitchen. I look out the bay window to the massive oak dripping in black screeching tar, and I know.

I forget the groceries; It's cold enough here for the eggs anyway. I wander out to the backdoor after the birds. Eventually, my brother's boots crunch on the scrunching, half frozen grass and halt in my peripherals.

“Everything looks so… dead.”

I would have rolled my eyes at such a careless statement if I was not already soaking in the extraordinary scene, stretched out below us. Rather than the simple oval visible from the kitchen, the lake takes a peculiar shape, as if a glass of water had been spilled over the canvas of the land, spreading only according to itself. I almost think that it is not frozen, until I focus closer at the stationary ripples decorating it's surface. Time has completely stopped, binding the waves in fragile crystals, until the first wave of spring comes to grant freedom. Much different than a block of ice, it holds its character in its unique shape and color. The land around the small body of water molds to its every contour. The boundaries of the ice and darkened soil are clear and defined by the other, yet at the same time they swirl and blend into a single landscape.

It was a warning about an approaching storm, the crow's visit. They predict the premature frost spreading over the dirty glass like a fungus attacking the bones of a long forgotten graveyard dweller. I shiver. Evergreens are scattered all along the banks and as far as I can see, adding a deep green to the lake's icy blues and grays. Their snow dusted branches are just enough to highlight, without suffocating, Colorado’s snow-capped royalty. They cradle their subjects in a protective fortress, awaiting a winter more bitter than all seasons preceding.

(Portia Graf 2015)

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