I looked out the window of my office into the backyard and saw a raven the size of a small hatchback automobile laying on its side. I’d never seen a bird so large in my life. I put on my shoes, walked around back, and observed the bird for about a minute. The raven’s body moved slightly with the rising and falling of its breath. I stepped forward, close enough to touch it. The raven didn’t seem to notice. I rested my right hand on its wing, and it turned its head toward me. The raven’s beady eyes peered right into mine, and it let out the faintest squawk. I began to run my hand along its wing, occasionally feeling the rigid bones beneath the soft feathers. The raven began to rock back and forth, propping itself up with the wing under its side against the ground. I took a step back and the raven rolled over on its back. I began to pet the massive bird’s underbelly. Its feet began to move in alternating motions like a cyclist pedaling an invisible bike. The raven squawked again, this time louder. “Shhh, it’s okay,” I said. The bird craned its neck toward me, even while on its back, and looked into my eyes again. I stepped back and gave the raven some space. It managed to flip itself over and get onto its feet. The raven took off with two flaps of its extended wings and squawked so loud it hurt my ears. I went back inside, but I couldn’t focus on my work. I haven’t seen the raven again.
Collected in Brief Moments of Life