Crow Totem

This fledgling crow often accompanies me when I walk to the store. It is always silent. I can hear its feathers rustling as it flies past my head, lands perfectly, turns and looks at me. Again and again. It started following me shortly after my friend and colleague Noel Franklin died unexpectedly in late May, 2020. She was a prolific and brilliant poet and graphic artist based in Seattle, and was living in our home as the Pandemic started. She had been grappling with alcoholism and was diagnosed bipolar in the last years of her life. But that didn’t stop her from creating an impressive body of work. She often drew crows, her animal totem. Some of Noel’s ancestors hail from the Cherokee and Shoshone nations.

I took a walk in Seahurst Park in Burien Washington in the week after I’d found Noel’s body. It was our favorite place to ‘forest bathe’. According to Coastal Salish custom, ancestors reside in these woods overlooking the Salish Sea (Puget Sound). This melody took form during that walk, the Salish Sea was a field of sparkling diamonds, and the ancestors were present.

I made a simple arrangement for voice, with accordion and clarinet accompaniment, and my Seattle Composers Alliance colleagues Tara Forth and Steve Kirk further orchestrated the piece. Steve Kirk produced the final mix of the song.

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