She’s still there, Old Crane Woman. Still there, down by the river. A river doesn’t let you go easily, says Old Crane Woman. A river keeps you close.
When you stand by a river, Old Crane Woman says, maybe sometimes you’ll be thinking about crossing it. If a river is a threshold, maybe sometimes you’ll want to be stepping over it. But Old Crane Woman has this to say: choose your crossing place well. Will you choose a bridge, to cross over the river? Then choose your bridge well. Will this bridge hold you? Will it hold the weight of the baggage you carry? Will the cross-beams crack, or will you step over so lightly that you’ll leave no trace of your passing? Will your feet dance across the bridge, or will they drag? Will you burn that bridge behind you, or will you leave it? Will you leave it for the others who some day might walk for a while in your footsteps? Sometimes, Old Crane Woman says, bridges are for burning. Sometimes, they’re not.
Old Crane Woman is standing by the ford; it’s the kind of crossing place she likes best. Look at it there, under the pink-and-blue hues of a mackerel sky.
Old Crane Woman knows this ford; it runs red with the blood of the dead. Her sister lives here: the bean nighe. You might catch a glimpse of her if you sneak down alone, at the liminal times of dawn and dusk. Washing the linen of those who are soon to die. If you catch her there, and ask her politely, she’ll tell you what you want to know. She’ll tell you, for sure, what she sees. But you’d better be sure you want to hear it. Choose your crossings carefully, Old Crane Woman says. And never look back at the Washerwoman at the Ford.
Old Crane Woman has crossed over the threshold. The land is the journey, Old Crane Woman says. The source, and the destination. And all the steps in between. Until you find yourself back where you started, there by the river, again.
Old Crane Woman’s building her nest. From the scraps of cloth which weave together this land. And a scrap of linen gathered from the blood-red ford.