It's a New Day

August 2020

Vol. 48, No. 4

Whip-poor-will Dream

John Nelson

"Who cooks for you? Who cooks for YOU all?" At dusk a Barred Owl calls from the woods behind our home in West Gloucester. Another owl responds, less articulate, a tad hysterical, a mix of bawling toddler and delirious coyote. "Who cooks aargh garg why whee y'allllll?" Closer, an Eastern Screech Owl introduces a soft, shivering whinny as a leitmotif. After a while I go back in the house to watch a news report: sickness and death statistics, grief, tear gas, rage, solidarity. Back on the deck I hear no owls, but under a full moon another voice reaches out from inside the darkness, cadenced, relentlessly determined to be heard. For moments there is no pandemic, no nation reckoning with its racial history and future, nothing but a sound beckoning in the wind. Whip-poor-will whip-poor-will whip-poor-will.

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