Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
If Voices They Had | 10.8.23

If Voices They Had | 10.8.23

The Sunday Edition

I wonder often, as the weather changes and my time spent sitting on the deck watching the birds begins to dwindle, of such grand things. I drift away in thought, when the crispness returns to the air and for some reason it feels like the beginning, though I know we’re much closer to the end of the year. All things start again in Autumn, don’t they? This the melancholy lesson instilled in us each year as school began again, as we returned home to the last gasps of Summer, the death rattles of heat and unchecked freedom, gave way to the first bells of our educational institutions. I watch the birds, hours I watch them, the nuthatches, the finches, pine siskin, and crow. I watch the magpies steal the peanuts before the squirrels can bury them for Winter, listen for the hammering of the woodpecker, the haunting song of snow geese finding their way through the mist and fog above. I seek out their shapes, the white on the white, or if I’m lucky, the deep blue before the black. When I wonder, I wonder of them, all of them, the furry and the feathered, the scaled, the hairy. I wonder and wish the wishes I’ve never been gifted that I could speak what they speak, that we all spoke the same language, and that for once, we could understand.

If voices they had, I ask myself in these quiet hours, how would they speak of us? What would they say to one another in the hushed tone of owl, the nervous squeak of mouse, of what we’re doing here? From fox to coyote, as they pass a carcass or kill, what secrets would they share? Bear, I call out to the dark forest behind my home, what do you speak of before you slumber?

I do know these answers, I cannot know them, as wild things are blessed with a clarity we bipeds are not, a clearness that comes only when we think more of the world than we do our silly desires, but I cannot help but wonder, but ask those that look at me with confused eyes, pupils pinched in case I am not one of the good ones, those that will not hurt, will not steal life. I can guess though, for often I think that while I cannot speak the words they speak, I can hear the thoughts they think, that I can, somehow, for some reason, understand in a way I don’t know if many can.

I’ve said before, the only pride I have in this life of mine, the only thing I look at myself and feel a modicum of appreciation for about myself, is the trust wild animals have in me. I don’t know why it is this way, but it is this way, and it always has been. They are safe with me, and they know this with an unchallenged certainty, and they let me know that I am safe with them, in turn. They come to my hands, the flight-graced and the land-locked, they put their faces to my fingers, they eat, they light upon my palms, they let me hold them, let me feel their fur. I have fed foxes, I have fed deer, I’ve felt the feathers of more birds than I can count, manatee, turtles, and frogs. I’ve felt the fingers of muskrat, and been licked and nuzzled by timberwolf. I won’t question the why of this, I will just be thankful, and try my best to do whatever it is I’ve done to maintain it. I think more of them, than of me, and I think this is what they think, when they think of us, when they speak of us in those languages we’ve not been able to learn.

More than all things, they are confused. Why do we have so much, but give so little? Why are we so afraid of our own ends that we forget to play along the way? Why do we fight so fiercely for things that do not matter, but forget to fluster our own feathers for all that does? Why do we allow such injustice to go unchecked? Why do we build things that can harm so many, and then loom the threat of destruction over like storm cloud that could burst at any moment? Why do we think we need so much, so much more than what’s required to stay alive, and even more than what’s needed to thrive? This gluttony, where does it come from, and how did it leak into the souls of us?

Look there, they chirp to one another at the feeders I fill, look at them looking down into the blue box that glows, everywhere they go they look down, what of this sunlight, what of this life? Why do they take our trees, only to pour black tar over the ground we once fed upon? We’re going soon, they whisper with a sorrow I can feel, there won’t be room for us anymore. I wonder if they’ll miss these songs?

Look here, says fish to fish as they navigate the minefield of plastic we’ve polluted their homes with, what of all this nonsense, all this waste? What of the warming, the rising, what of the melting? Eons we have swam here, say they to they, why now, why so swiftly have our numbers gone, has this place changed? These land-dwellers that can hardly swim, why do they hurt us here? Don’t they have enough?

Still, they watch us love, those that peek out from forest dark, from holes in the trees that remain. They see tenderness, too, they come close to hear laughter from those still tiny, still new. They come to some of us, we lucky few, to feel that tiny burst of electricity when species not meant to mingle, do. They watch and tilt their heads back and forth at the strange things we do, the oddities we throw importance into. They see us hold one another through sobbing tears, they see us warm by fires and share laughter, they think maybe that sound is our secret, too.

It’s not all bad, say some of them to some of them, there is good there, still. They see us planting trees, letting our lawns grow long, they see us fill the feeders, and clean the water, they see us trying, and trying, and trying, to make this place better, to make it home for them again.

I know they speak of us, I know they watch, I only wish I could speak back, only wish I could try my best to explain. We are broken, I would say in my softest voice, but some of us are trying, some of us still care. I wish I could, for a moment or two, know the notes of their songs, the timbre of their understanding, and I wish I could tell them we are sorry, that I speak for those who will not speak, that I speak for those who don’t even believe what I believe, when I say that we are so very sorry for what we have done, for how we’ve lost our way. I am sorry, over and over I would tweet or chirp, bark, growl, purr, or hiss. I am sorry, and I am trying to help.

I don’t know what they’d say in return, perhaps that it’s too late, perhaps that they understand. My bet is the latter, as wild things to not hold the grudges we hold. My bet is forgiveness, for what’s wild is kind.

I don’t know these answers, but as I sit on front porches around small fires, I wonder. Always, I wonder.

If voices they had

how then would they speak of us,

and what we’re doing?

Haiku on Life by Tyler Knott Gregson

Song of the Week

Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Tyler Knott Gregson and his weekly "Sunday Edition" of his Signal Fire newsletter. Diving into life, poetry, relationships, sex, human nature, the universe, and all things beautiful.