When the Duke of Bickleham was a young child,
he wanted to be a Black Bird.
Black Birds were exactly the way that the little Duke Boy felt he wanted to be more like.
He loved, for instance, how a Black Bird would sit on a thin branch or cable without ever falling off,
without loosing its delicate balance for one moment.
He admired their evening song, so harmonious and in tune with the colours of the sky,
never interrupting the serenity or silence of the moment, rather, the song was part of it.
He loved how Black Birds were able to be part of a crowd, lined up perfectly on an electric cable high above a corn field, without quarreling, without disturbing each other’s peace and withtout taking up each other’s space.
But he also admired how equally, they seemed so very content and dignified when they were solitary, on the edge of a chimney, under a rising moon, alone, dedicating their evening song to the ending of the day, or perhaps, to the commencing of the evening, or, he philosophized,
perhaps the Black Bird sang the song in honour of that untouchable moment that lives just in between the day and the evening. That moment that could not go back nor move forward and seemed to vanish in front of you before you could even give it a name, or a thought.
Duke Boy wished and tried and dreamed of becoming a Black Bird so very desperately,
it made his heart hurt.
But each morning when he awoke, when he stretched his skinny arms out and wiggled his little stumpy toes, he realized he was still the same as when he went to sleep.
Not even the night could have changed him into a Black Bird.
Something had to be done, he figured.
Perhaps the old Witch could help him realize his unearthly desire.
So he took to the woods in search of the crooked hut of the Witch.
He went there at dawn,
when the droplets of condensation on the moss and the grass looked just like pearls.
The hut was at the edge of everything,
and when Duke Boy got there, he noticed it looked abandoned.
The roof had collapsed and the door hung balanced on only one hinge.
It looked like the Witch no longer lived there.
Maybe she had died, thought Duke Boy.
But witches don’t die, do they?
They live to be a million years and more!
They are older than the earth!
So Duke Boy decided to search for the Witch, he needed to know her whereabouts,
and he needed her to magic him into a Black Bird.
He crossed into the other world that lay just behind the abandoned hut.
It was evening there, instead of morning, and the moon had just started to rise.
The moon looked nothing like it did in the world Duke Boy came from,
it wasn’t like some distant planet, far from reach and faint.
No, instead it was as if you could almost touch it!
Huge, with sparkles flying off her surface and blindingly bright!
Yet, her light did not light up the landscape beneath her,
it did not turn the night into day, like the sun does.
Instead it was contained within itself,
leaving the fields and forests dipped in a delightful, blue shadow.
Duke Boy carefully made his way through the other world,
noticing the strange differences to the one he just came from.
For instance, the scent of things.
The scent of the world Duke Boy came from,
usually seems to travel thinly on the air.
It travels into the nose and then it might linger there for a little bit,
and go again, as quickly as it came, leaving but a trace of a memory.
In this other world however, the scent was thicker than the air itself,
and it left almost no space for memory, nor did it ever seem to leave a place.
It was as if it had arms and legs, and a face, so thick the scent lived in that world.
Even the water in the burns and rivers had a scent so unmistakable and strong,
you could virtually touch it.
Secondly there was that strange big bright moon,
erupting and detracting her pearl like light and sparkles.
Also, the plants and trees that fed on the light of this moon grew in the colour blue, not green.
A strange thing it is, a blue forest.
And there was something else that was quite odd, it was silent.
Not a chirp nor a crackle could be heard.
Even the Duke’s breathing was drowned out by the immense and overwhelming silence.
After having wandered in this strange world for a little while,
Duke Boy found a rock cushioned with a patch of moss by the edge of the water.
He sat down there and rested.
He looked over the mirror-like surface of the water and noticed the perfect reflection of the sky shimmering inside of it.
He thought about the Witch, and wondered where she would be.
Then Duke Boy got thirsty and cupped some water into his hand.
He brought the water up to his mouth and drank.
But it did not clench his thirst, so he cupped some more water and drank again.
However, the more he drank, the thirstier he became.
And after drinking for hours and hours, there was no water left in the lake.
The bottom of the lake was now completely exposed and Duke Boy could see a small entrance there, which looked like a cave.
Duke Boy was now completely full of water and too heavy to stand or walk,
so he let himself stream into the cave and like a waterfall he crashed down into a deep, dark abyss.
When the falling stopped, he hung like a large droplet in the middle of this strange underearth sky.
He noticed the Witch was all around him.
She had no body or face,
but her presence was as immediate and fierce as a thunderstorm and as big as the universe itself.
She smelt of moss and wet stones,
she smelt of rain and fire, and she was more than a trillion years old.
“You want to be a Black Bird” she said.
Her voice echoed all around, and it made Duke Boy’s ears ring.
“You want to be a Black Bird, so you can be more like one.”
“Yes” Replied Duke Boy. “Could you magic me into a Black Bird?”
“I could” replied the Witch.
“But I won’t.
You do not have to be a Black Bird to be more like one.”
“How?” asked Duke Boy “I don’t understand?”
“Be balanced and dignified like one,
do not let the chaos and noise of the world around you make you stumble or fall.
Sing your song in harmony with the sky, without disturbing the silence.
Be pleasant among others and content when you are on your own and solitary.
You don not need black feathered wings to be more like a Black Bird.”
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