eighty-eight          

           The land, in its pre-dawn cape of vapour, looks vaguely out of focus, silvery like the face of a fogged-up mirror... at the hour when dreams abort and sleep plays tag with wakefulness... in the realm of not-quite-night... daybreak in arrears... limbo-like... ethereal... animation paused... breath itself arrested... poised as before a yawn... regarded from on high by an outstretched wingspan passing
soaring,
banking over:

  • woods awaiting,

  • cotton fields, bottomland, and pastures sprawled awaiting,

  • Quarters awaiting,

  • Big House awaiting,

  • the dormant souls within all motionless awaiting,

  • quiescent as if hostage to a black-fledged oblivion,

  • sunrise gilding, at last, the airborne spy's reconnaissance,

  • pinion feathers outspread fringed with gold,

  • spiralling,

  • completing a slow, lofty circle,

  • the earth on axis turning...

           ... as Mister Tune loads, lifts, and aims his rifle.

            Jewel, entrapped by a nightmare, she cannot evade...
 

Felicia, mad of eye, sighting down a gun barrel—
spectral in her enmity, focused in her hate.

            (A powder charge explodes.)

...jerks awake (wings contort) bolts upright (fold) clutching at her breast (hover a poignant moment) lurches from her bed and rushes to the window (then plummet) bearing witness to the slaughtered raven's fall.

            Tune, post firing the shot, glances toward the Big House, catching sight of someone (in retreat) from a top-floor perch, someone (backing from the sill) whose presence he deplores, a tincture of corruption tainting his malevolence, venom mixed with vengeance, umbrage laced with scorn. Sourly he distends his jowls, retracts his tongue and spits, then steers his gelding through the gloom of a stillborn dawn.