Moon Pic

I was eight years old. I lived in a brick house on the muddy, flat ground, on the east of the Great Salt Lake. My mom and my dad and my sister lived there too. In our backyard there was the skeleton of an old barn. It was covered by a tin roof. When birds walked on the tin roof you could hear their feet skritching on the tin. In the evening the wind blew the stink of dead fish from the lake into our yard. There hadn’t been any fish in that lake for thousands of years. The Great Salt Lake is the shriveled corpse of Lake Bonneville, an ancient inland sea. Maybe there were fish in the lake back then. I woke up in the middle of the night. The wind stank and I could hear bird feet on the tin roof. Most birds don’t move around at night. I crept from the house on sweet bare feet. The yard was dark except for the pale shadow-light of a new moon. There were hundreds of black birds on the still warm tin roof of our barn. They were milling around, privately conferring with one and other about something that was apparently very important to them. They all appeared to be very serious about this thing. I climbed up the age slickened wooden ladder slats that led to the tin roof. My dad had told me to never do that. I swung onto the tin roof and sat down on the peak with my chin on my knees. The birds didn’t care. I could see the night city lights, from Saltaire all the way to Syracuse. The lake was a black stain. The black birds made up their mind. They flew in a black wave, out over the muddy fields. They flew up at the moon. The moon disappeared. The birds kept flying up and away, out of sight. The moon was still gone. The black birds took it. I waited until the false dawn, then slithered down and snuck back into bed. I climbed onto the barn roof every night after that. The moon was gone. The birds were gone. The tin stayed warm all night from the heat of the day’s sun. On the seventh night in a row I went to the barn. At the top of the ladder sat a great raven. There was a sliver of white light in his eye. Ravens are pitch black. I went up the ladder with the greatest of stealth. The raven did not move. As I pulled myself up next to him, I could hear his stinking raven breath rasping through his beak. Ravens eat dead things. I took my knife from my pocket. Little boys sleep in their jeans so they will always have pockets. I cut off the gleaming eyed ravens head with my knife. His body flew away, really quietly, into the night. His head was still in my hand. The white sliver of light was still in his eye. I flung the head with all of my might out over the mud, toward the lake. I threw it farther and harder than I’d ever thrown anything. It went up and up until it reached the black moon spot. Then the moon was back, there in its moon spot. I felt a breeze on my cheek, and the stink wind came into the yard. I put my knife back in my pocket. I climbed down and went back to bed.