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A Storytelling | Hannah Love

I look up and see a crow, a shiny and scrawny thing, swaying from the powerline above us. It tips its weight forward as if to nosedive but pulls back at the last second, spreading its tail like a fan. I freeze.


“I don’t like how that bird is balancing,” Alexander says as we cross the street.


He stops in the middle of the road and looks up, clapping his hands. “Fly, bird! Don’t you know that’s not a safe place to land?”


I’d never thought to concern myself with the well-being of crows. Their presence is something I generally try not to think about, if not altogether avoid. At times, the crows swallow the city. Hordes of them flock downtown, cawing as they soar from building to building. At night, they sit still as statues and are almost invisible in the shadows. But then cars roll by, high beams reflecting in a million button eyes, and they stare and force me to remember: I’m seen. It always unsettles me when they do that.


Alexander whistles to the bird and sings a little riff about leaving dangerous places. He’s a musician, a storyteller, though he’s hesitant to say so. He is constantly observing. Singing songs about the lives of the people around him.


“I wonder why he feels the need to risk it like that, on the line,” he says, clapping again.


The crow leans forward and, this time, lets go, wings stretched wide as it swoops to the ground and then back up to the presumed safety of the sky. Alexander smiles.


A shepherd to crows everywhere, I think. I press my lips together and slide my hand into his.


Alexander is a shepherd to everyone, really. He notices every toddler we pass on the sidewalk. When we sit at a restaurant or a park, and parents inevitably become distracted, he is always watching, ready to catch the stumbling child or stop the wayward tricycle from weaving into the street.


We wander around the city until day surrenders to night. We stop at a bar on Clinton and drink glass after glass of crisp white wine. Alexander walks me home. As we move forward together, I see two crows staring at us from the cables stretched above the empty road. My throat tightens, but I keep walking. I look up to Alexander. He ropes me in a steady arm and pulls me into him.


Hannah Love (she/her) is a woman with a laptop from Portland, Oregon. When she is not working, she is practicing creative writing and befriending cats. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Buckman Journal, Crow & Cross Keys, Across The Margin, Audience Askew Literary Journal, and elsewhere. Follow more of her ramblings on Twitter @hanniestew and Instagram @isthathannahlove.


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