Manoel felled a tree in which was an owl nest and when he showed me the small blinded bird I asked him to let me keep it. I cut one of the owl's gray-brown wings and I have allowed him to run loose while we sleep. All night long I hear his hunting moan in the dark. I imagine him free; a gray cloud of feathered quiet drifting, his low cry, and his claws clinging to a young bird--clinging, clinging like an unlifting shadow. From a moral standpoint death, which is most inimical to human relations, should be hideous. But the owl has convinced me of the superficiality of moral judgments. He is the cruelest of creatures and the most innocent. In the morning he sits on my knee and I give him bits of our maggot-laden meat. He is resigned to me utterly. When I call to him in the daylight he always comes feebly toward the sound. And he stares, stares at me with his great helpless eyes, feeling perhaps, because I have given him meat, that I have become a part of his sightless world.
It is different with the hawk. Tilting himself back against the side of his cage, his claws, at the end of his thin stick-like legs, clutch tensely at the air, and when I attempt to feed him his terrible eyes select unerringly my moving finger. More than once he has dragged at it with his beak and torn my flesh. He was wounded when he was captured and it would be useless to free him. Nothing will free him but starvation. He sees us too plainly. His vision has placed us outside him forever. He recognizes our antithesis. He also reminds me of a child. He is another Death.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Noted: Evelyn Scott
Also from Part VI of Escapade: