The wing was the only salvageable piece from the road kill he had inadvertently caused. It being too beautiful to let the rain ruin. To leave for the crows to undo. Their irreverent plucking and tearing was unthinkable. The feathers were an elegy unto themselves. A pledge to stealth. Traffic and interstates were not part of the owl’s evolutionary plan.
As a retired pilot the man knew what it was like being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He also knew it was wrong not to tend to the body as best he could. He buried the thing right there along the road as a small gesture. A nod to survival. A moment of silence for the hunter and the hunted. What other way to honor the fallen among us?
where a tree once stood
Once home, he laid the wing across the hearth as if it were some sort of offering. He was an atheist. An environmentalist. A peacenik. Whatever religion would have him he wanted no part of. But there was an almost innate pull toward ceremony. Let the fire cure this wing, he thought, forgiving himself. The owl’s wing meant more than most artifacts he had accumulated throughout his life. These late gifts, always unexpected, seemed the most valuable. A fact he told few people.
ashes for the sapling