The darkest thing met me in the dark.
It was only a face and a brace of teeth
that held no words, though I felt a salty breath
sighing in my direction.
Once, in an autumn that is long gone,
I was down on my knees in the cranberry bog
and heard, in that lonely place,
two voices coming down the hill, and I was thrilled
to be granted this secret,
that the coyotes, walking together can talk together,
for I thought, what else could it be?
And even though what emerged
were two young women, two-legged for sure
and not at all aware of me,
their nimble, young women tongues
telling and answering, and though I knew
I have believed something probably not true,
yet it was wonderful to have believed it.
And it has stayed with me
as a present once given is forever given.
Easy and happy they sounded,
those two maidens of the wilderness
from which we have-
who knows to what furious, pitiful extent-
I have my whole life longed for animals to human speak through voice or thought transfer, such as seen in the movie Avitar. What I would I give to be able to talk and walk with a nonhuman companion at my side! In recent years this has lessened a bit as I learn more about behavior, interspecies neurobiology, and cognitive ethology, and apply all of this through conservation behavior. What has shifted is that I am better at listening.
To me the Barred Owl laughs at the world in the night, well, maybe it's not laughing really, but no less clear for me. For I feel the coolness and dark of the night, the feathered companion, competitor, or prey calling in the night, and I yearn to bring something good back to the three in the hollow of my nest tree. As Owl perhaps I don't describe in this way, but as human my mirror neurons light up as I imagine myself staring at the blood red eclipsed moon. I too fly silently in the night. We have not left the wilderness. It lives in us: our brains, our blood, our DNA, and in you.
We walk and talk together - with words, or without words. In this space, may no beings be banished from our hearts or from this earth.
With whom will you walk and talk today?