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.
In the red clay, I scoop a low grave, roll into it, rust across white cloth. The lion pawing, howls to get back out. It drags me by the dress-neck, summons fire and a circle of ancestors to minister a liquid. Nothing takes.
A teacher explains I’m just in a bad etheric neighborhood, no need to stay. The lion manages me across its back, walks us out of the landscape. It drags me to a fountain chiseled from quartz, leaves me there, licks at my limbs.
At which point the water matters, at which point the garden matters, who knows?
I beg my own root open, melt past fear with gold light.
In the waking, my dog declines, loses her weight, fur over bones and skin gone wonky. Jupiter squares my Moon, Neptune chokes it. I steadily leave myself. At the oil, spike, and rock shop, a reverend says he can see, shoves bloodroot at me, golden calcite, says why wait.