I prove to myself once again what I’ve always known: I am never the lark, but an owl by nature. Night is my friend and I require crickets to concentrate. Either that or a still, cold morning in New York staring out a window that isn’t mine watching the streets bustle on cleaning day, when no one can park on the curb. Since night falls everywhere at some point in time and New York is far away, I have to work with the conditions left to me.
The bird I can hear right now is an owl. A friend recently told me a sad truth about them. Though they are Athena’s bird, symbol of wisdom, owls are quite dumb. Serves Pallas right. Harumph. But that still doesn’t make me feel worse for finding favor with the little screech owl, sacred to Lilith, who landed on my head in the hospital trailer of the wildlife center. The night prior, he’d been brought in, struck, shocked, and still. We didn’t know if he’d live the night, let alone have flight. Yet when the kennel cage opened, he burst into the room, feathers flying, and sought refuge on my skull. Most nights, when I feel creative, I can still feel his talons digging into my scalp… not unlike the tactile memory of a lidocaine injection into the gums every time I recall what it is to be uncomfortable.
I’m left then with a strange bird and a system of symbols. Jasmine is the saddest smell I know, and the process of taking hold of imagined things and bringing them to earth feels like a screech owl’s claw in my hair. We can pretend that’s the source of my prickliness.