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Krawkawkaw Gives A Little

1989, mmartin

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Krawkawkaw, the crow god, possessed more power than any other god, but he never used it. And when he did use it, he used it in subtle and confusing ways. Perhaps he would manifest himself as a man-sized crow with human feet out in the middle of the swamp where there was no one to see him. Perhaps he would cause the goiter on your neck to grow into the image of your Uncle Nesbitt's face. Who could say? The pre-Christian Cajuns believed that Krawkawkaw created the world and everything in it. For that he was despised by men and gods.

Krawkawkaw said, "Believe whatever you want."

Ancient Cajun gumball carvings tell the story of the first first cousins: Odysseus Boudreau and Agamemnon Boudreau-Latiolas. They were the best of friends until Krawkawkaw came upon them hunting mullet in the forest. Krawkawkaw caused a mighty weariness to come upon the two first cousins, so that they lay their heads on beds of nettles and went to sleep. Then Krawkawkaw crept up on them, and whispered into Odysseus Boudreau's ear.

Krawkawkaw whispered, "Jolie."

Odysseus Boudreau woke up angry, and shook Agamemnon Boudreau-Latiolas. "What for you say 'jolie,' when I try to sleep, Agey?" said Odysseus Boudreau.

"Mais, I didn't say nothing, me," said Agamemnon Boudreau-Latiolas. "Put you little head down and sleep."

Odysseus Boudreau went back to sleep, but again Krawkawkaw whispered close in his ear. Krawkawkaw said, "Jolie."

Odysseus Boudreau woke up again. "Hey, you stop that jolie! You want me to get the plien de gaz gonflé?"

"I not jolie, you," said Agamemnon Boudreau-Latiolas, and went back to sleep. But Odysseus Boudreau was so angry, he picked up his mullet axe and smote his first cousin in the neck.

"Ah, mais!" said Agamemnon Boudreau-Latiolas, as his head rolled away from his body. "I am smote! Curse these nettles where I lay my only begotten head." And since that day, people avoid nettles because they make you itch.

"Agony, agony!" shouted Odysseus Boudreau. "I have slain my only first cousin. Oh me, I'm unpleasantly horrified."

"Now you know," said Krawkawkaw. And before he left, he pecked out both of Odysseus Boudreau's eyes.

The mullet saw the whole episode from up high in a tree, and was so disgusted that he vowed never again to live on dry land. To this day, mullet is a fish that only lives in the water.

Krawkawkaw said, "Live wherever you want."

* * *

Cajun tales tell how the world was created: In the beginning, there was only Nawnaw, the giant nutria-rat who chewed eternally on his own rat tail. He had to chew something, and since he was the only thing that existed, he chewed his own tail.

One day he had a headache, and Krawkawkaw burst forth from his head fully formed. A lot of other gods also burst out as well: Mumumu, the crawfish god; Mesqualo, the mosquito god; Trarinring, the water moccasin god; Grobalob, the garfish god; and Pesky the squirrel god.

Nawnaw, the cosmic nutria, dropped his tail out of his mouth and began to eat these new gods. Nobody knew what to do except Krawkawkaw, who pecked out Nawnaw's eyes and killed him. The other gods were very grateful, and elected Krawkawkaw as their king.

Krawkawkaw said, "Whatever you want, I'll do it."

Krawkawkaw went to the body of the cosmic nutria, and began ripping it apart with his beak. From the rat's ears he made air; from it's blood he made the sun and moon; from the tail he made water and some dirt; from the back left paw he made some more dirt and clouds. He still had a lot left over, so he started making things real quick: cypress knees, figs, the milky way, shrimp, heartworms, and people.

Krawkawkaw looked at everything, and saw how good it was.

But the other gods couldn't have liked it less. They said "Why did you make the days so long? How come the water's so blue? Why did you make just one moon — wouldn't a hundred have been better?" Right away, they voted to make Krawkawkaw not their king anymore.

Nevertheless, the first people, who were all Cajuns, worshipped Krawkawkaw. They lived in a lovely land called the Early Garden. They would go out into the woods, and carve the tallest cypress knees into totem poles in Krawkawkaw's likeness. They had wild orgies in his honor where they danced naked and barefoot in the mud, and the kids who were born would be consecrated to Krawkawkaw. To do this, they kissed the baby once on each eye, to ensure that Krawkawkaw would not peck out those eyes. It didn't always work.

Krawkawkaw said, "I'm easy to get along with."

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