We left the eviction notice on the door and had a month of feather play. We ran through the town with the sisters and put them everywhere. At the bank, where sprinklers outside fought to keep the lawn green, we sent handfuls of feathers shooting up the tubes, spiraling around inside like tiny black tornadoes. We went into the neighbor's yard at night, the one with the yellow sports car, and put a single feather in his gas tank. Left them rocking like ships on the water at the wishing fountain in the mall. At the comic shop, slipped big ones into comic books and small ones into decks of cards. There was a thin creek we loved, a place we played with the sisters, damming it up with stones and digging it out deeper, catching crawdads and baby jackfish. We studded the hard clay bottom with feathers, sticking up like weeds in their rows, the slow current waving their tips. If we were going somewhere, we wanted to take this with us. That month, playing with the sisters and working our father's sympathetic magic, we looked up at the stars at night and found it easy to believe that the universe might care about us.

Coming and going from the house, we saw our father laboring over a pile of quilts in the kitchen, fabric shears and heavy needle and thread on the table, heaps of feathers scattered around and settled deep onto the floor. His fingers fluttered up and down, the feather tattoos on them swirling in and out of each other. “It's going to be a big storm when it comes,” he told us. We'd been putting feathers on everything we owned for weeks. Father had been covering the old house in feathers since the day we'd moved in, but it wasn't ours. We understood him wanting it, though. There were a lot of things we wanted and couldn't have.

Cop cars had been creeping by the house all week. An officer stopped, parked his car behind father's truck, and got out. He came onto the porch and looked in through the open doorway, fingering the little feathers hanging off our belongings like yard sale price tags. Light slid metallic off his sunglasses. “How's the packing coming?” he asked. “Won't be any trouble come time to move, will it?”

“Won't be any trouble at all,” father said. “It's all ready to go.” We weren't sure what our father believed or what he might do, why he wouldn't let us fill boxes. We loved him. But we were also afraid of him.

On his way out, the cop stopped at the cages where animals growled and cawed at each other. “What about all this? You just setting them loose?”

“I'm bringing every one,” said our father.

That night, he tucked us into our old bed for the last time, tomorrow the day we would have to leave. It was too much finally, and we cried. We begged to pack, but he made us lie in the bed. We thought of all the things we had marked with feathers—the car, the bank, the fountain, the creek, and the five sisters. We would go some new place and lose everything that we loved.

“Where will we go?” we asked him. “Will we be with our mother?” We meant dead, but we couldn't bring ourselves to say it. Because we had decided, on the same day that we couldn't decide what type of Indian we wanted to be, on the day we'd been spit on and we'd found out we were being evicted, we knew that even if we had a mother, she must be dead.

“The storm coming tomorrow will be big,” father said. “Five times bigger than the one that picked up me and your mother years ago. But it's nothing to be afraid of. It took us to a new land.”

“Everyone here hates us,” we cried.

“Me and your mother were brought to a place where we had everything. A beautiful house, green hills, a river crashing down a mountain, and cool wind at night. We lived our whole lives there, happy.”

We buried our faces in the covers and spoke through them. “Father,” we said, “we don't have anything beautiful. This is the desert. Our mother is dead. We have never been happy here.”

When we stuck our noses like beaks over the edge of the blanket, he was gone, back in the kitchen stitching and cutting. We held each other, talked about the very worst thing that could happen, and we waited for it.

* * *

Before the sun was up, the landlord was there, beating on the door and shouting. We could hear him kicking things off the porch with his boots and swearing at us. Police car lights flashed through our window. Our father waited in the cramped living room with a coat for each of us. “Put it on before you walk out.” He'd taken quilts and sewn them into loose jackets, but they were studded on both sides with overlapping black feathers. Down feathers underneath and the stiff ones for catching wind on top. The coats shimmered blackly. We put them on, tight under our armpits and hugging our sides, and we felt like crow boys for sure.

He opened the door and gestured for us to walk out. We hopped blinking into the sun, and the cops made way for us. The landlord said that social services should take us away. Then our father stepped through the door. He had taken off all his clothes, and we saw that he was covered in feather tattoos. He had them inked down his arms and legs, fans of them turning his shoulder blades into black wings. They threaded in and out of each other on his spine. The wind started up blowing hard, and his hair drifted in it long and dark like a ribbon of smoke. We bounced on our toes and waved our arms to let the breeze flow all under and around us.

The cops grinned at my father, trussed up tight in their blue uniforms. “You're not taking anything, huh?” one of them asked. “Not one stitch.”

Our father smiled. “No,” he said. “I'm taking it all.”

The wind blew harder and harder, picking up loose sand and throwing it against the line of cars. It was easy then to lift our arms, to hop on our delicate feet, and let it carry us up. We looked at each other, beaked and winged, our legs little more than sticks of bone and claw. We laughed in our harsh voices, rising up on the wind and circling one another. It was ridiculous. Of course we’d never been brothers. We had always been crows.

Below us, we saw that our father had risen too, but clumsy, his body thrown around by the wind. He curled into a feather-covered ball of skin, protecting his head with his hands. We spread out and let the air twist beneath us. Below, hundreds of tiny feathers waved, some breaking free and sucked up into the storm gathering around us. We were each the eye of a tornado, wind and sand and black feathers coalescing into something that could shake the earth. We began to move.

From the air, the landlord and the police were only mites, jumping into their cars and fleeing, driving blind through wind and sand, running off the road in their hurry. We rose higher and higher, and the earth lifted beneath us. The first thing pulled up was the house. The roof split apart and was sucked up in pieces, then all the things inside, and finally the boards below breaking loose like piano keys and swirling around us. The animals rose in their cages, an inhuman cacophony, and we screamed too in our throaty way. We raked our five funnels across the neighbor's yard and picked up his yellow car, sending it colliding through the wreckage of the house, battering itself to pieces in the air, windshield powdered and doors knocked in.

We drifted. The creek blasted apart under us, and the air turned bloody with clay and water, our tornadoes become cyclones of red dirt and black feathers. The bodies of fish tumbled, arced like silvery boomerangs on the air. We drifted into town and found the bank. Peeled it apart brick by brick, and then gathered up everything inside, a shower of pens and paper. The vault lay exposed beneath us, a heart too heavy to lift.

We moved farther and faster, headed for the wide horizon. Our father shouted through the wind, “Take me to fruit trees and green grass! Take me to the girl I've always loved!” He had told us that he saved the woman he loved, the one who should have been our mother. Maybe he'd tried. That's what he wanted to have happened, anyway. But our father couldn't save anyone. We came to the home of the sisters. They pressed their pale faces to the windows and held their perfect black feathers. In an instant, their lights went out and we could see them no more. Their small house was pulled up whole into the storm, rolling between the five of us, a hail of debris strafing it from every side. We screamed our chorus, booming caws that echoed up from the mouths of five tornadoes, answered by thunder and lightning. Our father spun through the air and moaned, carried along as helpless as the rest of us. He was a liar. We were the same.

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