When you found me, my wings were broken. A wild owl will not last long in such a state. But, then, if I was ever a wild owl, I do not remember it. I broke my wings escaping from a cage that fills my entire memory of the past. How did I know a cage could be escaped from? I must have been something else, once. Someone else.
A true owl coughs up pellets made of fur and bone. An act of returning to the world of the bounty feasted upon. Grotesque marvels to amuse morbid human children. My pellets in those early days of freedom were glass shards, barbed wire, and tufts of anonymous plastic, laced with the rank smell of poison.
I was not a pretty owl.
You showed me pictures of owls, and told me about what owls do, because I had no idea anymore. You could not fly for me, but reminded me what wings are for, and gave me the space to use them, should I feel inclined to take the risk.
For a real bird, with snapped bones beneath tattered remnants of feather, death may be kinder than life. There are advantages to not being quite real, and these are the advantages I have, and I must not fear to use them.
On the day I flew, you kissed my feathers, and let me go. Each action equally important. When I can, I will return to roost somewhere nearby, and cough up small offerings that I hope you will find, and recognise. Proper gifts, of recycled mouse. Proof of life.