Tuesday, May 5, 2015


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Raven's Lament
Frank Talaber


Brook Grant stared at the ‘Dear John’ letter Georgina left last month. Her empty closet and dresser answered any questions he might have had about a possible reconciliation. To distract himself, he flipped through the pages of his journal again, trying to retrace his footsteps at Ninstints. The totems had intrigued him then, filled him with an ache for what was lost. How could the vibrancy of the Haida and their artistry be reduced to yellowed photographs consigned to musty books?

            Reading his entries brought the realization he’d lost that feeling of living on the edge, like walking between worlds. Georgina’s departure left him feeling empty. Adrift, with no compass to guide him.

            She was supposed to be his one true love. Soul mates. But somewhere, between the illusion of commitment and his belief in the relationship, he let it all slip away; including the romance. Just like the Haida at Sghaan Gway, where now only enigmatic gods etched into cedar remained; she was gone.

            His diary peered back at him like the faces in the totems. Where had he gone wrong? Seeking the answers, he’d begun searching his diaries only to come across the memoirs of his trip to the Charlottes. Evocative memories, yet none bringing him any solace. How could you let her go? How did you not see this coming? Did you care?

            He’d written, ‘There are nights on the West Coast, particularly on the mist-shrouded isles of the Queen Charlottes, when the fog rolls in so thick it mutes the background thunder of the surf. Nights, when if you look closely enough, wavering shapes emerge in the full moon’s shimmering light. A breath of cold wind brushes against your face and you shiver, believing as the Haida do, that you’ve been caressed by the spirits. Soon you begin to understand why they say everything has a soul and that we are anchored to this realm and to our physical bodies only by tenuous threads of waangaay, of spirit.

            The Haida call this place Xhaaydla Gwaayaay, the Islands on the Boundary between worlds.
            The three Watchmen that crowned most poles squinted out from under top hats of outlandish ferns, bearing coats of moss and lichens, staring with empty eyes and mute tongues. Eternally watching.'

Calling, but to what?

            A line from a familiar song played in his head: only time can mend a broken heart. Then how do you fill a gaping hole in your soul?

            Staring with empty eyes and mute tongues, the totems towered in his memory. Silent faces full of voices speaking to a quiet place inside him where he was unbroken. The place he needed to return to.


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