If you’re reading this, then something must have happened.
They would have sent it to you because I left it with all my things, stamped and addressed in my own hand.
They have been so patient with me.
“Just take one day at a time”.
They take it in turns to rub my back. It’s so good for me. I think of it as love I can rely on.
“Put one foot in front of the other, it just takes time”.
So that’s what I’ve been doing, and every day my feet bring me to that path along the clifftop – the one that I always said was too close to the edge. We drive to the carpark and walk together to the seat at the very top. They’re not too happy about the path and the edge, so they steady me with their arms. It’s the perfect exercise for me, and they like my enthusiasm for the view from the top.
Of course, I haven’t told them our history: how it was our favourite place; how we used to hold hands along that path because I felt safer that way. Remember how you pretended to be annoyed when I used to say, “the edge is too close, too crumbly; one of us might fall; I would die if I lost you”? You wanted me to be more daring, but you held on to me anyway. I was so happy then, so safe.
Then came that night my plane got in early. Her Italian motorcycle in your driveway, black and sculptured, fast and mean.
I just froze: foot hard on the brake, eyes wide open for the very first time, searching your window for silhouettes, feeling the crushing weight of it. I should have used my key, caught you at it, but instead I just lost it. She took me out, like a silent sniper in the night: tinted visor, tight black leathers, long legs wrapped around all that European horsepower… never saw her coming. I hooked a U-turn without looking, pushed my foot to the floor and retreated through the rain, windscreen wipers beating like frantic wings. Maybe it was the heavy rain, or the tears; I don’t remember anything except the scream of metal being cut and bent away to get me out.
They’ve been saying I can’t go home until I can walk up to our special seat on the top of the cliff by myself. I actually think I’m ready. I really want to visit the seat on my own. You used to say we could see our future from that seat. You were so wrong – all I ever see from up there is the past.
Just the other day, I made it all the way to the seat without their hands on me. They cheered and we all lay down to stare at the clouds. High in the sky, a hunting raptor fell on some poor, unsuspecting seabird lumbering towards the safety of its rookery. We saw it all: the brief flash of the black chevron plummeting across the sun and vanishing in the blinding of the glare; then suddenly, from behind and below its prey, the upward-curving swoop of its high speed attack, eyes on the soft underbelly; the roll, the strike, the talons sinking in, and the beak taking the life. Swift and deadly. No contest at all. In the blink of an eye, one life forfeited for another. Your motorcycle friend would have loved it.
Lately, I’ve been asking them if I could walk all the way up the path to the seat alone, to prove I’m ready to go home. I’ve made such good progress in the last few weeks that they have just agreed.
What I didn’t tell them though, was that I’m going to see if I can do it with my eyes closed.
A photo-literary collaboration with Robin King
This writing draws its inspiration from the metaphors we take from the natures of the creatures around us: a raptor does what it does by instinct – it kills to survive, or to hone its hunting skills; people on the other hand, can at least choose to be caring or to harm, to be trustworthy or to betray. Human beings can be sensitive and empathetic to others, and so minimize the damage resulting from their selfishness and their mistakes.
Raptor also goes hand-in-hand with her poem Do You Know What I know?
This is a photo-literary collage. It is my second collaboration on RedBubble, 28 June 2010.
See the first collaboration The Last of My Kind
And to see the most amazing photograph of a raptor practising its mid-air attack roll, see Mid Flight Flip by EagleHunter . Please take the time to wander through her gallery of astonishing wildlife photographs.