I remember when I was going to write about birds. Then there were so many birds I couldn't figure out how to get started. I wrote about ten birds or so last spring and then let it fall by the wayside.
I'm ready to write about birds again.
And I'm going to start back up with an owl.
I sit on the trunk of a car, twenty-five years ago, leaning up against the back window in the dim light of post-sunset Houston. The orange lights from the oil refineries are blocked by the live oak trees all around us, the summer heat never lifts, and me and a boy are on the back of the rusted yellow orange Datsun.
The air smells like the still water on the other side of the railroad tracks, something poor, something stagnant. It infuses the gravel driveway, the wooden porch, the house and the crawlspace underneath, the car.
I rarely ride in the car; I rarely visit the house.
We lean back, not touching, looking up towards the breaks in the trees. So much of the time I filled with talk, he filled with movement. But now we are silent and still.
And there it is, the floating flash of feathers as the owl passes overhead. Time passes, and we hear the who-who-who. I don't know until much later that it's probably a great horned owl--it was a large creature, it didn't have the spooky barred owl call, it didn't shriek. Just "who".
We lie there on the back of the Datsun, not touching, not talking. It's over in just a few months. We will never know each other again, we will never see or talk or touch each other ever again.
I'm wondering who. Who was that girl? Who did I think I was? Who did I think I could possibly be?
But I think I know who I am now.