Be Still

Chris Priestley

I’m standing in the driveway of the house where we used to live in Norfolk

It’s morning and there’s been a sharp frost. The gravel beneath my boots is bonded together by ice. The sky is pale grey. The air is cold in my throat. I see my breath rise up in visible wisps.

And then the barn owl floats in on my left side.

Not just silently, but broadcasting silence – like another thing might scatter sound.

I tell myself to be still, then, as it flutters past, it turns its face and looks straight at me; palely beautiful and inscrutable.

It’s only interest in me is in assessing any potential threat I pose and it quickly decides I am of no interest at all.

I watch it floating away across the lawn, past our arthritic old apple trees, and on towards the dirt track leading up to the…

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