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"Raven Woman"

Sacred Bearings: A Journal on Violence and Spiritual Life, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Spring Issue 2000, and Connotations, Island Institute, Spring 2001.

   Raven entered my life through gifts. First there was the sweatshirt, a present from my older sister on my 36th birthday. Turquoise blue, the color of glacier ice. On the front, a black raven painted in the graceful ovoids and swelling outlines of Alaska Native art: chest out, wings spread, tail fanned, head in profile. . . .
   The first blood to stain the shirt came off Joyce's halibut. We'd left Paul and Herm behind on Orca. Paul had launched the dinghy and was rigging it for a sail. Herm was setting up crab traps. Joyce and I took the inflatable.
   We had fishing rods, herring for bait, a small tackle box, a medium-sized net, and a club. Cans of beer rolled around on the floorboards. We motored north about a quarter mile, cut the engine, and dropped the plastic bucket over the side to hold position. We baited our hooks and dropped them to the bottom, reeled up a bit.
   And sat. Joyce on one inflated pontoon, I on the other. Beers opened, smiles across our faces. Just us, the blue bowl of sky, the sloping walls of the mountains around a calm sea. To the south, Orca floated on a tether of anchor chain; the graceful sheer line of her hull swept up at stern and bow, her masts raked gently aft.
   Sooner than expected, the tip of Joyce's rod curved down almost to the water. She scrambled to grip the rod, adjust the reel. I quickly reeled in my own line.