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  • "Raptor," I mutter to myself, surprised as much by my word choice as by the feathered star atop the tall cypress tree.

    I'm standing on a busy bike path that runs through the greenway called the Panhandle near my home in San Francisco. Seeing my upturned head and raised hands, lifting my iPhone like some ceremonial offering as I try to battle beauty's invocation of mortality with my digital brick, early morning bike commuters glance to the tree-top altar and its idol-attendant before their momentum whisks them away under its lower branches.

    Whatever coffee-fueled semantic calculations I'd been immersed in just seconds ago have been snatched like field mice and carried by the raptor up to its unknowable perch. I'm immersed in earth; distance and height and species have all returned to consequence. I cannot know. I can only feel as though I know.

    The raptor does not return the field mice. Without moving, perhaps with a glint off its eyeball that enters mine, it dive-bombs into my chest, releasing a beautiful panic, like a perfect bell struck a bit too hard. "Return to your work, and I will mine." The next footstep feels like the first of my day. I pass below the cypress, back homewards, out of the all-seeing eye.
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