Dear Creatures

For our moments of silence.

close up shot of a buffalo

We remember. Despite some apparent determination to forget. How you were the first circles surrounding our centers. Oracles, you carried messages, promises. You offered invitations. When we wondered about living, and how––and we were always wondering, you offered by example, some possibilities. Like this, you said, and this. There were so many ways. You embodied each fully, without hesitation. Only when we dared to return your gaze could we know ourselves. We were silent before the mystery of you, and you carried our secrets.

You had your holes and your nests, but we hardly knew where to rest our heads. You leant your bodies to our metaphors, our art. Some say you gave your blood, saying paint. You knew we needed symbols to live. 

We painted and dreamed with your bodies, but one day, one of us got carried away by the power of the symbol in his hand and forgot what he was. He went around in darkness, chanting “I am soul! Soul!” and “Let there be light!” I don’t need to tell you what he thought he was. He thought he had arrived by his words. But we had only ever known you in our silences.


Inspired by John Berger’s Why Look at Animals? (1977) in About Looking. And other creatures.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

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