Setting out at night to traverse an expansive natural area, an owl lands on my right shoulder. I fret its injury, its face under its wing. My brother holds it in place but inspection says it’s likely fine.
Leaving, careful of the owl, its feathers on my face, the dry red earth graphing up the night skies. I worry for its wellness, worry about its tamelessness, wonder at its affinity for me. Then the feathers turn to fur, it changes then and is a sea otter.
A small, lit cabin is on the right nearby. I stop for water and rest, check the animal. An older couple welcomes us in. The break is just minutes. I walk us back out, navigate perpetuating terrain. None of it easy; the balance, my shoulder, the animal’s need. We reach the other end whole, and familiar.