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excerpt from The Mercy, Toni Morrison's new novel

 
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One day, ran the story, an eagle laid her eggs in a nest far above and far beyond
the snakes and paws that hunted them.  Her eyes are midnight black and shiny as she
watches over them.  At the tremble of a leaf, the scent of any other life, her frown
deepens, her head jerks, and her feathers quietly lift.  Her talons are sharpened on
rock; her beak is like the scythe of a war god.  She is fierce, protecting her
bourning young.  But one thing she cannot defend against:  the evil thoughts of man.


One day a traveler climbs a mountain nearby.  He stands at its summit admiring all
he sees below him.  The turquoise lake, the eternal hemlocks, the starlings sailing
into clouds cut by rainbow.  The traveler laughs at the beauty saying, "This is
perfect.  This is mine."  And the word swells, booming like thunder into valleys,
over acres of primrose and mallow.  Creatures come out of caves wondering what it
means.  Mine.  Mine.  Mine.

The shells of the eagle's eggs quiver and one even cracks.  The eagle swivels her
head to find the source of the strange, meaningless thunder, the incomprehensible
sound.  Spotting the traveler, she swoops down to claw away his laugh and his
unnatural sound.  But the traveler, under attack, raises his stick and strikes her
wing with all his strength.  Screaming she falls and falls.  Over the turquoise
lake, beyond the eternal hemlocks, down through the clouds cut by rainbow.
Screaming, screaming she is carried away by wind instead of wing.
    Then Florens would whisper, "Where is she now?"
    "Still falling," Lina would answer, "she is falling forever."
    Florens barely breathes.  "And the eggs?" she asks.
    "They hatch alone," says Lina.
    "Do they live?"  Florens' whispering is urgent.
    "We have," says Lina.
    Florens would sigh then, her head on Lina's shoulder and when sleep came the
little girl's smile lingered...   

 
Doody calls. I would really rather that it didn't. Comfort me wise and sterile tiny ad:
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