Walking my red-and-white dog this afternoon, I heard a murder of crows before I saw them, the cawing louder than a roller derby. We were walking along Oaks Bluff. Clouds were studies of charcoal and grays, and the Willamette River flowed beside the auburns and blues of the wetlands and leaf-eager trees. Then, I heard the trill of an eagle. Farther up the bluff, perched in an oak, the black body of the bird, the white ball of its head, stark against the gray sky, the eagle keened.
I don’t know why I’m telling you this except all those birdsongs have been echoing inside me for hours. My old dog and I walked home, and after she ate her dinner, I shut the door to write this. The sky is now more charcoal than blue-gray, and I am writing to remake my body because my body turned gasp and babble, cackle and swagger.
At the end of January, when the alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning, I was in that type of sleep that rarely happens anymore, the feather-streaming sleep. When I walked outside and left my dog curled in her double-decker bed, the dark was warm against my cheeks. I walked under the streetlights, past my neighbors’ dark houses to the same bluff, the Willamette flowing below, the west hills in the distance, the clouds masking the super blood blue moon. I thought other people would be out, but I saw no one.
I continued along the bluff, checked the horizon for clouds breaking, white-rimmed ripping, to let out a glimpse of red, but there was only night, corpulent and full. Where the path turned to forest, I turned back. Then, in the deep of cedars, a drum started thumping. A man started chanting, his words a monotone under a monochromatic sky, where a moon we couldn’t see was setting, a moon eclipsed by the planet we were standing on, a moon turned blood-colored for more than an hour.
Only once have I seen land where I was standing eclipse another land. Twenty years ago, a team of us set out at night to climb Mt. Hood. The light was blue-dark. For hours our boots crunched up the steep slope, elevation making each breath hurt, making the stars so bright we turned off our headlamps. Our packs bent us, but we raised our eyes to the peak. At dawn, the sun began to rise behind us. On the valley floor, where we had left our dogs, our training, our separateness, we saw the pink pyramid of Mt. Hood rise on a purple landscape.
I’m writing this because something inside me is connecting without words. What does it mean to set out to witness the workings of the universe? Maybe it is to know with your body. When I say I am writing this to remake my body, I mean that I am writing with a sense of belonging, a knowing that is not of me, but through me.
I’m telling you this because you may recognize the baby-gurgle of an eagle’s cry before the word, eagle, occurs to you. You may know the river flows at night when you can’t see it. You know the white tip of your dog’s tail flutters when she hears your voice before you enter a room. You belong to the snow-capped mountain that lies behind the charcoal clouds. You belong. Call it trust.