From: Featherhood (2020), by Charlie Gilmour:
“These gifts from the underworld haven’t left me in the years since. They’ve ossified into habits. It’s only very recently that I’ve reluctantly begun to admit that something might not be quite right. That it isn’t healthy or normal to keep a knife as long as my forearm on the bedside table, and another one by the front door, and the back door, and on my desk, and in the bathroom. That it isn’t fair on the postman to interrogate him through the letterbox every time he calls. That the rumble of a van, or a knock at the door – or the sight of a bird behind wire – shouldn’t precipitate a corporeal feeling of panic. Yana has been integral to this change. Her patience has kept us together. But it’s the moments when she’s lost patience that have helped me to begin seeing things the way they really are, when she’s been appalled and embarrassed by something I’ve done, flight or fight.
Not that self-awareness is proving to be very much use. I come away from the window, sit back down at my desk, and try to concentrate, but it’s no good. The silent alarm is blaring and I don’t have the key to shut it off. I catch sight of the miniature Cenotaph again and, cursing, I sweep it into a drawer and out of sight. Outside, the bird clatters. I jump up from my desk, go downstairs, and clamber out of the kitchen window. The bird peers down at me from a branch above my head. I hold out my hand and he drops to it, a reassuring weight that fixes me in the present. The silent alarm goes dead.”
From: H is for Hawk (2014), by Helen Macdonald:
“Now that Dad was gone I was starting to see how mortality was bound up in things like that cold, arc-lit sky. How the world is full of signs and wonders that come, and go, and if you are lucky you might see them. Once, twice. Perhaps never again. The albums on my mother’s shelves are full of family photographs. But also other things. A starling with a crooked beak. A day of hoarfrost and smoke. A cherry tree thick with blossom. Thunderclouds, lightning strikes, comets and eclipses: celestial events terrifying in their blind distances but reassuring you, too, that the world is for ever, though you are only a blink in its course.”