The Loss of Birdcatcher   2503.05.17*  
Written By: Amy Chandler
(2010 Howls Contest - Honey's Howl) During Honey's Howl, Rainpace relates the circumstances of her father's death.
Posted: 05/05/10      [7 Comments]

RTH 2484.08.05

We should be sleeping but the air
Feels wrong, like the world is waiting
Holding its breath, expecting something.
Then comes the crack of distant thunder.

surprise, anticipation

Rain? We don’t dare hope. There are no
clouds. We hear them coming first,
Screeching their alarm. Birds blacken
The sky. A whiff of smoke comes with them.

worry, hurry

Four become eight as our two
Hunt parties become one to share
The load of success, bear it home on
Hastened feet as the haze deepens.

blinding, choking

All tired from the night’s hunt,
We run together with our bonds.
But this fire moves so fast.
Grey smoke turns hot and black.

eyes leaking, legs aching

The gloom separates us, divides us
Two from the rest. Birdcatcher and I
Go on alone up the steep embankment.

can’t scent, can’t see

I chase Birdcatcher’s tall shadow,
Moving fast, looking for
Remembered water. Can't slow down.

running, trusting

Blocked by flame in a ravine,
We have to climb out, leaving
The wolves to find their own way.

arms shaking, tears welling

The stream, shrunken by drought
to a trickle barely ankle deep,
Provides no cool cover.

panic, coughing

The small expanse of sand gives
Scant safety from fire. We run.

throat burning, can’t breathe

The nearly dry river bed is a narrowing tunnel
Through the blaze, leading to a small lake.

can’t breathe!

Fire speeds ahead on both sides of us.
The forest roars, snaps, …shrieks.

wood? kin?

We can’t hear the thunder coming
Until it surrounds us. Stampede!

twisting, dodging

Fear-frothed branch-horns surge forward.

stay up

The branch-horn bull shoves past us, leading his cows.

keep moving

Birdcatcher goes down beneath their hooves...

wet splatter across the sand

Chest a mangle... head seeping blood.

dragging, yanking
too heavy, no time
bad shoulder tearing, giving way
cheeks wet, feet wet, wading

He led me to safety.

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