An Owl

January 12, 2013
I’m Owl. Not literally, but because I see everything and can change nothing. I wish I could tell you my perch was on a weeping willow, but it isn’t; it’s on the street or in the halls, but I’m as invisible there as I would be behind crying vines. When I was little, my mother used to call me her whirl wind, and when I was older, I was Puppy, but that was before—well, that was before a lot of things. I could start at the beginning, but that would mean that there would have to be a beginning, and there’s never a beginning to anything.

The first time I stood in my new room, I pressed my palm against the glass and breathed into it. The snow outside was pure as cocaine, and I was ashamed for thinking that, but I did. There was no furniture because the old family had moved out a year ago, and the place was a long, naked rectangle. I claimed that room because it had light, and I missed it. Where we came from, the sky was heavy and low, and it pressed down sunless on my clavicle and spine. The clouds did that to everyone, until we swallowed pills or closed our lips around skins: then our eyes sparked open, and there was light. You’re born with an exact amount of light in you; supernovas die young and black holes are eternal. I know that because I’ve seen it, and I can tell you because I’m neither.

I’ve watched life invert itself and seen souls concave. Night swallows light and there’s beauty in the destruction, but only if you know light will roll back in pinks and oranges. I guess I’m Owl because I’ve watched the cycle too many times to tell dusk from dawn, and I wonder sometimes if there is a difference at all. We are only known as what we are named. But there are times when I know names are wrong, like Puppy, and there are times when I know there are no words for what we don’t know we don’t know.
This arrow through my sternum: there are words for it, but none that describe the ignition below my lungs or the way breathe snags on trachea. It’s a natural light, like the one that seeped through my window over powder snow that first day with my palm sealed flat against glass. I see everything, but seeing is not comprehension, and in seeing I know not to name what I cannot understand. That’s the beauty of it, seeing light before it is called light; when a baby sees sun scattered over the ocean, it doesn’t worry that it will be burned. But this arrow does have a name, and so I swivel my head and burrow it deep in my feathers, and I watch the way I always do. Curled up, I become the weeping willow, the street, the halls, and I am safe.
But I have seen enough to refuse to become a black hole, because eternity is worse than mortality, and because I want to burn. I want to burn like the fire circus men swallow; I want to be consumed. So I unfurl my wings slowly, and I hurl myself from my perch without twisting my head. When my wings catch flame, I will explode like a supernova: seeing nothing and feeling everything, and I won’t be Owl anymore.

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