16 April 2013

The Custom

We found the bones in the garden, bones so tiny some
might scoff at their insignificance.  They were entwined in
a pellet of grey fluff and dust that broke apart as you placed
it upon a small blue plate.  The bones, broken shards with points
so sharp - how had they not injured the owl that had digested
the rest of this small creature?  Separating these bones from the
chaff, we sorted, hoping to discover their origin.  Was this an
animal that scurried?  Slithered?  Flew?  In our minds we struggled  
to assemble the puzzling inventory:  half a cracked nickel-sized
pelvis, an assortment of broken hollow bones, two tiny ivory
incisors, a single bead of vertebra.  I reflected on an owl we’d
found years ago, barely uncovered on the banks of a dry wash
in the Canyon, its sturdy legs all that jutted out from the sand
beneath a boulder.  Talons glinted as the breeze made sway its
downy tufts.  How had it come to be there, buried as it was, under
that marker?  Such is not the custom of owls.  We dared not
disturb that static symbol of death and wisdom, perhaps sensing our
precarious perch on the other side of such things.  These
inscrutable proofs of death as life, a lesson to express that which
does not nourish now, of leaving behind something to enrich the
soil.  I took the blue plate outside, satisfied with the endurance of 
mystery, and sprinkled the bones and dust in the garden, returning
them, as is our custom, to the earth where all ends and begins.  Briefly,
they shone in that loam, like your smile in the darkness, like
our moon before another levied dawn.

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