Otter’s dam

I’m writing this for my friend Awen Thornber,

She is another scribbler on a similar path so we put our heads together and came up with this little tale about writer’s block.

Otter’s dam

I told you in a previous tale how Otter became a bard but in the last year or so, what with nearly losing her mate during the floods, rearing her pups and generally rescuing every stray animal in the riverside area, she had not made up any tales in a long time. The less she practiced her art, the less she felt up to doing it. A lethargy took over that was a form of “false busy-ness”.

Everyone knows that crows (in fact most corvids) are the wise ones but don’t tell the owls who think that is their job and get hopping mad. In so many tales of creation Crow or his family helped Spirit to shape the world or acted as guide and messenger between them. In one tale a Chief God had two ravens as his best helpers.

Otter was always polite to everyone but she had a special bond with Crow, who had been touched by Spirit. Autumn had come, the leaves were falling off the trees and Crow looked as if she were joining them. Her feathers were out of place and her beak covered in dust. She perched disconsolately on a branch above otter’s holt.

“Wanna sing, Crow?”


“Going to be Samhain soon. What will you do for the ritual.”

“Nothing, Otter. My mind is blacker than my wings.”

“Like a dam in a river you mean?” Otter squeaked. “I have that. it’s like my story telling is a stream and sometimes a log falls across it and nothing gets past!”

“Yes, stones, not snails!” agreed Crow.

“Bugger, innit?” Otter observed.

Crow shook herself until her feathers rattled and clacked her beak experimentally a few times, then she launched into a song, extemporising what she had seen, where she had been and everything that had happened since she last saw her friend.

Otter was entranced and stood on her hind legs to pick up the croaky, harsh melody. Then she joined in, adding her own words, All the fear, joy and frustration of being a mate and mother came tumbling out in harmony with Crow’s song.

“Bust your dam, there, Otter,” Crow croaked and then winked before taking off.


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