Sometimes a hawk will stand on a starling, periodically shaking it with a peeved look on its face. This is your life trying to wake you up. Or just a signal to you that your one spirit animal and your other spirit animal are actual real animals out in the driveway being gross and normal. Sometimes you will find that a man has co-opted your bed and you are on the floor on a futon with a toddler. A bright flashing light appears at the window periodically, and you’re imagining a truck has come to give the trees haircuts so the power lines can go through. You are drifting off and thinking all the trees on your block will be left looking like someone took a clipper to the middle of their scalps. Then there is a Biblical crash and you realize, “Oh, thunder.” The man sits up in bed and asks what’s going on. You feel vaguely accused. If your life is a play. If your life is a novel. If you are narrating your life. This is a habit you’ve had since childhood.
Joanna Penn Cooper is a poet and essayist who is the author of The Itinerant Girl’s Guide to Self-Hypnosis and What Is a Domicile. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.
*Image by Sam Swerdloff. Courtesy Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library.