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Robert Wrigley

Robert Wrigley

Robert Wrigley teaches at the University of Idaho. His most recent book is Beautiful Country (Penguin, 2010).

Short Essay On Freedom In Spring

The owl rotates its head one-hundred-ninety-degrees
to regard me, swinging my strange featherless wings
in the silly-looking swoop the physical therapist insisted
will insure, he said, "satisfactory freedom of movement
for the lifetime yet to come," though whose lifetime
he meant he did not say. I might outlast this owl,
it might outlive me. As for freedom, it may not even be
a concept an owl in captivity fathoms. Last winter
was so mild the mice in their abundance
are ridden with ticks and lice. And for the next year or so
this not-quite-clear-cut will have that special war-zone
appeal, that hinge spot where freedom becomes
not just ability but the almost patriotic duty to destroy.
Me, I have wasted my body, while the calisthenics of the owl
are distances soared through and the isometric disassembly
of hares. I wonder if it wonders where I'm going.
In utter silence through the windlessness it passes overhead
and looks momentarily down, as I do,
having traced the fall of something's plummet onto the dark
spring trail, which I kneel to and see is a drop of blood.


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