The tawny owl was making a point. A point to the tawny owl looks like multiples points dissected by a number of tangents that intersect on planes that may exist or not in different galaxies, without any of the constraints that most humans believe are guaranteed to be solid by law. In higher galaxies, spirals and pinwheels scoff at mere solids. Many sad love songs, lyrical narratives, and sick jokes have been composed on the topic.
He said, “I was nesting beside a lake in Wisconsin where I could pick and choose from itty bitty mammals that had too much to eat and drink. They all moved so slow. Wisconsin is nice like that.”
I said, “You know it freaks me out when you start to do this.”
“It was Summer, naturally.”
“Is that your answer?”
“My answer is never going to be your answer. I was there. I’m there now. I’m here now. I know where I’m at.”
The tawny owl does not apologize for the sharpness of his claws. Nor for the razor acuity of his beak. He is 38 years old, but possesses a memory that spans a shitload of human eras. He once told me the number of ways there are in human cultures to apologize. He had performed the elegant math for me. It was a number too big for me to remember. For owls, the same number was zero. Efficient transfer of intra-species memory is one of the many vital areas in which he explains humans are extraordinarily weak.
I said, “Is that any reason to flaunt it?’
He said, “Hell, yeah.”
I said, “Not down here.”
“Why would I be down there when I can be up here?”
“I hear you knocking but you can’t get in.”
“You’re talking about our brains again, I assume.”
“What else you got?”
I said, “I’m not going to get into a pissing match.”
“You know you can’t keep up.”
“I’m just saying.”
“I hear you saying it.”
“Since you’re here, let’s stick with here.”
“You got it or you don’t.”
“You don’t have to say it so often.”
“How else the likes of you ever going to get it?”
The tawny owl can connect concepts in biology, physics, biophysics, astrophysics, metaphysics, biochemistry, chemistry. It’s hard for me to get very far in any of those directions, or high. No matter where I’m at, I know I’m in no position to disagree with him. It’s trickier for me to look up than down. My neck, in the end, sticks out only so far. The tawny owl laughs his ass off at that on a regular basis. He claims the laughter keeps his ass young and sprightly. And his neck rotating to all of its 270 degrees. But lately the lovely Thee Mrs. has been nagging him to cut so much crapping around with all his dirty humans. Since I’m the only one in the immediate neighborhood, that’s reason enough to give me pause.
“But, baby, you know how I dig they beat. You can’t tell me you don’t, too. I heard you singing just the other day exactly like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.”
“I can sing in the sky and dance in the trees. I don’t need to get down there so low and dirty.”
“Not a lot better than laughing an ass off while you dancing.’
“Not a lot is what you gonna get.”
“Okay, baby, you’re right. I’ma cut back. I promise. Right after I catch you a warm, gooey bunny for a midnight snack.”
“Don’t you give me none o’ that sweet talk.”
“Believe me, that’s no lie.”
“What do you think I am, just another pretty face?”
“You know me better than that.”
“You down there on such a low level some of it must be sticking.”
He said, “Baby, have a little faith in me.”
Later, many hours after recent facts had escaped me, I was pondering the dynamics of this latest dialogue with the tawny owl. It felt as if my position was precarious. I don’t believe I was dreaming when I saw a rancorous blue jay pick off a dull witted dragon fly out of the thick air. I’m sure I woke up before that. The jay had the ease of a lanky first baseman. It’s true that speed absolutely kills.
Then, a pigeon came along and pecked me on the cheek. As the blood flowed, the pigeon said, “I’ll bet you thought I was going to coo into your ear.”
I said, “I don’t think that’s what I thought.”
The pigeon said, “What about now?”
I said, “I don’t know what I”m thinking.”
“You remember me, don’t you?”
“I do now.”
Then, I became engaged in a perilous two hour battle against a tricky mosquito, the deadliest of all animals to humans. At nearly 4 AM, I was victorious. Those are the facts and facts only. I’m not bragging. I had pretended to read a book and lulled the demon into hover mode. He was filled with my blood when he crashed, the sucker. There was so much of it, blood I mean, certainly not guts, and in such a clear, vivid, and untainted red, that I almost had to swoon. Perhaps, that’s what slowed him down. I am not sorry, though, and would refuse to apologize anyway. But, what is this attraction to my blood? Is it only mine or will just any blood satisfy the gargantuan lust out there?
I asked the tawny owl for his opinion when he returned after a night of gallivanting. I stepped out of the back door and looked up into the redwood tree. When I stay awake in my bed I’m naked but I was wearing slippers made of artificial materials. Probably Asian. The thorns out back can be rapacious. My hair was messed up, sticking out, radically independent.
The tawny owl took one look and said, “What the fuck?”
I said, “That’s what I’ve been worrying about, too. I’m not sure if I’ve been dreaming.”
“Dreaming or not, it’s all the same. Pings of energy, shades of matter, tides, swells, collisions, and of course figure eights. Bunch of other deep shit mixed and transformed far out there. Then it’s all twisted, squared, extrapolated. No stop, no start. That’s a big part of it. That’s life and life only, man.”
I thought, whoa, fucking whoa. One thing I do know a good deal about is geography. I know where I’m standing.
I said, “I don’t thing I should be hearing this.”
He said, “Clearly, you’re not.”
That’s when I knew for sure it was time to wake up, rise up, stand up, expand, and breathe deeper.