Essay: “Recent Encounters with Wildlife” by Ginny MacDonald


Recent Encounters with Wildlife

I’m writing at work again. I’m sorry, employer. I keep the news feed on: Google the names, groups, affiliations. I get my facts straight.

I saw a moose in the headlights—dust-brown flanks, head forward, long-legged and unconcerned with my existence. I stopped the car, but I was already past and the sun was not yet up. I saw what I saw then the dark took it away.

The radio is off in the car—I listen to novels instead. On the desktop at work I have bookmarked the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU.

At the far end of the field there was an owl, hunting in the late afternoon, so unlike an owl. So out in the open, daylight on the undersides of white wings as it came to the earth and rose again. I could not see what it had in its talons.

This is how I feel: I should buy more ammunition. I should learn how to shoot the big Mossberg. I don’t care if the slugs are expensive. I have food in the basement, but I’m bringing home a twenty-five pound bag of flour. Maybe two.

Don’t tell me to shut up.

The deer are moving, in heat, being hunted, and they’re bounding across the pavement in places not usual. I watch the verge for eyeshine, ready to brake. I don’t want to kill the deer. I don’t want to total my car.

The supermoon paled the late grass, silvered the bare arms of the maples, bounced off the weathervane on the shed. Moon or no moon I stayed in the yard. There is so much in the woods I can’t see.

I want to take the paint we use for marking trees and spray “Black Lives Matter” on the side of the barn. There’s enough moon for that. Of course, it would have to be nighttime.

Driving five over the limit there was a thunk on the driver’s side door. No damage, but the feathers of a small bird stuck to the panel, gray on blue.

Ginny MacDonald makes her home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her essays have been published in Brevity, matchbook, Hobart, 45th Parallel, and elsewhere. She grows her own vegetables, heats with wood, and is pretty excited about her new flashlight.

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