I was standing outside “Grandmother’s House,” the house of many rooms, many places, and many appearances that I visit so often in dream that I wonder whether I am a ghost in that world, or a ghost in the waking world—or a ghost in both.
It was cold; misty, like it could rain but hadn’t made up its mind to do it. This time Grandma’s house was built of large timbers of dark wood, in a manner that was like a cross between a Pacific Northwest Amerindian lodge, and a Japanese temple. As I walk around a corner of the house, I see a structure about the same size and shape as an old style British phone box but made of the same dark wood, with elaborately carved open lattice work on the sides—essentially it was a very large vaguely oriental birdcage. I could see through the lattices that it was full of crows; crows and blackbirds.
A woman with long frizzy brown hair, grey eyes, and a fair complexion stood beside the door of the cage. She opened the door, just a bit, reached in and caught a bird without any hurry or trouble whatsoever, and without disturbing the other crows very much. The women brought the captured crow out, closed the door, and quickly slit the bird’s belly from gizzard to tail, using a small very sharp knife—or could it have been her fingernail? She held the body open and peered inside the gaping slit she had made, then pressed it closed as if she was closing a book, and smoothed the black feathers. Somehow the wound was healed, and the bird revived none the worse for the treatment. She released the bird, which hopped to the ground and flew away, opened the cage, caught another crow, and repeated her actions with the same result.
As I came closer, the woman turned and looked me up and down. She said, “Sometimes it’s better when I look inside.” I stood beside her and watched her for a while, and at one point she snipped a bit of intestine about the length of her pinkie out of one crow, and quickly ate it. The bird was healed and as seemingly unharmed as all the rest. “Sometimes it’s good to shorten it a bit,” said the lady. I looked at her and was suddenly convinced that she too was a crow, or a bird-goddess of some sort, though she looked like a distinctly un-avian middle-aged woman. But then I fell awake.