Clam Myth

Before Raven, Man was bound inside a single clam. The ground and the heavens were two shells held tightly closed by a single, slimy muscle, like the clams we know now – a creature of pure reflex and response.

This muscle was also the only source of food for Man. Every day Man ate the muscle, and every night the muscle grew anew, feeding itself on those forced to live along its outer edge. As the people in the center of the shell multiplied, others were pushed to its fringes. There, they groped the smooth darkness and found barely perceptible seams. But as soon as their fingers tingled along the unknown – before they could fathom what they had found – they were swished down a river to the underworld of the muscle, where they were consumed, turned into food for their brethren, and used to seal the crevice they sought to find.

Then one day Raven stumbled upon this clam. He listened to the routine that renewed with every breath and cackled at the clammed-up men.

When they heard this murderous laugh, they cowered and clung to the muscle. But there was nothing they could do to stop what happened next.

Raven threw his broad, black beak into the sunlight like a fiery sword, then brought it down squarely onto the clam. The shell cracked in half and the muscle died. Thousands of men died, too, but those who survived were free to inhabit a broader world – a world in which they were smaller than the grains of sand.

While some braved this new world, many were terrified by the vision. They clung to the walls of the decaying corpse, holding their eyes shut and hiding from the light. These men quickly perished. Raven slurped down the muscle and sucked clean the shells. Finished, he stretched his wings and took flight in search of his next meal.

Those who opened their eyes found that their vision quickly adjusted. The warmth of the outside air soothed their clammy skin. They marveled at the new world, devoured the fruits of the land and grew tall. Eventually, they found that there were many clams, just like the one they had lived in. Remembering what Raven had done, they tore these clams from the muddy banks of the inlet, raised beak-shaped rocks high into the air, and brought them down squarely upon the shells, then slurped the muscles and sucked clean the shells, relishing the briny tang of the flesh that once bound them.

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