Owl-light

Mid January when daylight is compressed to a wedge of silver between charcoal dawn and the twilight of late afternoon. It was the third anniversary of my mother’s death and I was trying to walk off my gloom before the children finished school. Even the two dogs seemed depressed, padding along silently – no pulling or wayward sniffing. As I approached the gate to the house I saw a white shape from the corner of my eye drifting along. I thought it was a carrier bag caught in the nettles, but when I turned to pick it up I saw a barn owl. It flew slowly in front of me only a few feet above the ground gleaming in the gathering dusk. I followed its ghostly light. It didn’t seem alarmed by the dogs or by my presence. Then it settled on a fence post hunched like a shawl of leaves. Slowly it turned its head towards me. I shall never forget that heart-shaped face and the look from those fathomless eyes. Every year on 15th January I think about that owl.
Track Valley Hse

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