Your cold flesh slides along my fingers easily, ice crystals still clinging to your belly, milky eyes gazing up towards the bare lightbulbs above me, clawed feet curled against your tail. Many of your kin line the crinkly trash bag, all forever silent, all eternally cold.
Each body is carefully lifted onto old newspaper, feathers an inky black that matches the words printed in ads or articles beneath your still form. My heart aches for your death, but when I look into your eyes, I see only an empty shell, no spirit remains within. I had feared that I might be driven mad by incorporeal corvids, clawing my face in grief, driving me away from their fallen bodies.
But everything is silent.
The only sounds are the slosh of the rinse bucket filled with antiseptic solutions, the crack of bones, the wrinkles of paper and plastic, and the breath filtering through my face mask. The only smells I can sense are the white sage I burned for you, the warming meat smell that can only be your bodies, and the astringent odors of the wash bucket overpowering everything else.
I came prepared for rotten corpses, putrid leavings, and decaying entrails that mushed beneath my hands into a slurry of black and brown ooze. I wore gloves, a face mask, and brought a 5 gallon bucket filled with vinegar, alcohol, and water to cleanse away any rot I encountered. But instead I found 6 freshly dead crows, frozen into dancer’s poses, with whitened eyes left to view the world.
As I lift each of you from the confines of the bag that brought you to me, I whisper that I am sorry you died, and ask if I may keep a part of you as a way to honor your death. With each of the 6 fresh crows, I sense that I have permission (as though Someone is watching over the proceedings, if not still within your bodies), and stroke your remains gently as I carefully harvest the different parts that speak to me.
Clawed feet, ebony wings, and heads dance a swirling tango within my rinsing bucket, each one brushing against the other in a silent waltz. I carefully lift each onto a brown paper sheet to dry, before laying each part of your bodies reverently into a tray filled with borax, salt, and cornmeal to begin the preservation process.
Two of your kin are left whole, and buried within a planter box to honor your passing, once it warms up more I will plant Mugwort or Sage above your bones, and light candles to remember and honor you.
Each of the 4 heads that I harvested are buried carefully within a flowerpot to receive a plant ally once the weather warms up.
All that remains is to wait, and retrieve your bones for painting, creating an altar for The Morrigan, and to have one bone or part to add to my necklace pouch.
Good night my lovelies, rest well, I will be back for you soon.