Yesterday. I’m driving along a back road through the woods. I go around a curve and there’s a flurry of wings and something large falling to the ground in the opposite lane. As I’m coming to a stop, I’m recognizing size, shape…it’s a hawk, and something’s not right, there’s a wing twisted, and another car is coming the opposite direction, and I’m thinking about gloves and blankets and how to stop the other car before it reaches the hawk.
Then, once I’ve stopped completely, I understand. The hawk’s not injured at all. In its talons is a mourning dove. The dove’s wing is twisted, but it’s still alive. Alive and stunned, looking around it as if everything will clear soon, and it will return to flying on its way.
We all couldn’t have been stopped for more than thirty seconds. The other car, me, the hawk. The dove, trapped in those last moments between life and death, head up, wing broken. Then the hawk flew, and we continued on our way.
Being a writer means not just being a collector of details, but a curator of them. It means going into the archives of all the things you have experienced, and shaping an exhibit, exploring how a group fits together, choosing the lighting, the spacing, how best to share these things you’ve gathered, constantly searching for new pieces to add. It means looking at a dying dove in a hawk’s talons and being both in the moment, and cataloging the moment.