Stillness Now


When I let our dog out at night I like to step out on the front porch while he wanders off to do his business.  It was still last night and the yellowing leaves on the birch by the house were absolutely unmoving as if they were part of a brilliant painting, brushed and dried into place. What a rare thing to witness the natural world not in its normal constant motion of branches swaying, leaves twirling, grasses bending, birds flitting, a squirrel clinging to the side of a tree, frozen but for its tail quivering with uncertainty.  Even in death the maggots move flesh like swirling currents of a river.  

This propulsion of the living and the dying and the feeding of the next is the natural order of things but it seemed that the world held still while I studied the canvas of that moment in time.  

Standing out there, I couldn't help but think of an image of a bald eagle that has stuck with me all these many months.  I returned to the memory of it: the claws curled tight into a fist and the white down of the underbelly blowing gently against the stiff body.  It was much larger against the pavement compared to an open blue sky; about the size of a the small deer carcass it was surely feeding on when it was killed.  

Generally, when you hear about a dead bald eagle it's with a certain amount of outrage- an unjustified killing or sad accident. 

But this eagle was just like any other dead thing on the side of the road.  No different than the opossum just a few miles up, its blood smeared across three lanes, chunks of its flesh dragged yards apart. 

The two weren't any different there on the pavement.  We index them and prioritize them- regal or rodent- but in the end we kill them just the same. 

There is nothing I feel so sure of myself than this ache I feel for the wild things.


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