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  • It's like this:

    I hang up the phone. Close the laptop. Step outside.

    There's an odd something in the air. Clouds stretch across the sky like torn, dirty lace. An intermittent breeze huffs a scent of almost-rain across the field. The animals shuffle about the interstices of uneasy.

    Did something just or almost happen?

    The robin, who for days has been working on her third nest of the season, drops a beakful of dried grasses just like that and flaps away. The catbird runs through a series of songs I do not recognize and breaks off mid-song. The tiny wren hisses its rattlesnake warning as though rattlesnakes slither in these parts.

    Out a little further a female turkey trails a single chick along the path. A coyote ignores them, sliding from the field grasses and disappearing, flicking in and out of view. A doe with her fawn ambles across the slip of yard where I stand, headed to the orchard as though I'm just another tree. The fawn sniffs at the air and clatters away sideways.

    The snakes, the chipmunks, the rabbits are nowhere to be seen. It's as though they've moved out.

    And then there. There it is. The balance-shifter.

    An owl. Barred. On a low branch of a massive maple. In full daylight. Those eyes. That swiveling neck. The heft of wing beneath a feather coat.

    Staring at me. As though to say, Where have you been?

    And in spite of myself I'm reading things into this meeting. I listen. I look. I am as still as the grass. Everything else vanishes beneath its gaze.

    And you ask me how it is I get nothing done.
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