I am following some advice that I read somewhere that said you should read the authors whose writing you love to inform your writing practice. With this in mind, I am rereading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I know, I know, I toot the Cheryl Strayed horn quite a lot around here, but she has some skills and reading Wild during my commute to and from work on Saturday and Sunday this weekend (BEAST!) saved me. Today, I read a quote about ravens that seemed apropos to tonight’s game.
Yes, I watched some football tonight. So glossy and hyper-stylized compared to back when I’d watch with dirty messy football my dad in the early 80’s. I don’t like today’s iteration; it feels too contrived. I do love Baltimore, though, for the following reasons:
1. Season 4 of The Wire is the only accurate portrayal of inner city school teaching I have ever, ever seen.
2. It is home to my favorite museum in the world: The American Visionary Art Musuem
3. My dear friend, comrade in teaching, and poet Brenda Bordofsky lives there. I heart that lady.
So, Ravens, fans, Baltimore folks, and bird lovers! This quote is to you from Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild from me.
I went to the women’s restroom. As I brushed my teeth before a flourescently lit mirror above a bank of sinks, a woman said, “I like your feather,” and pointed to it on my pack.
“Thanks,” I said, our eyes meeting in the mirror. She was pale and brown-eyed with a bumpy nose and a long braid down her back; dressed in a tie-dyed T-shirt and a pair of patched-up cutoff jeans and Birkenstock sandals. “My friend gave it to me,” I mumbled as toothpaste dribbled out of my mouth. It seemed like forever since I’d talked to a woman.
“It’s got to be a corvid,” she said, reaching over to touch it delicately with one finger. “It’s either a raven or a crow, a symbol of the void,” she added, in a mystical tone.
“The void?” I’d asked, crestfallen.
“It’s a good thing,” she said. “It’s the place where things are born, where they begin. Think about how a black hole absorbs energy and then releases it into something new and alive.” She paused, looking meaningfully into my eyes. “My ex-partner is an ornithologist,” she explained in a less ethereal tone. “His area of research is corvidology. His thesis was on ravens and because I have a master’s in English I had to read the fucking thing like then times, so I know more than I need to know about them.”
Lovely, no? Black birds, black holes, symbols of absorbing the crazy stuff around them to produce birth and beginnings…
Baltimore, may you continue to produce beautiful things from the void of crazy urban life, and I’m not talking about football here, but whatever.