A friend tells me there are otters in our urban park, our sanctuary a mere stone's throw from where sirens blare and gangs go about their dirty business. The otters emerge long after sundown, or so I hear, swirling their sleek furred selves in the velvet of 2am. I must trust in this, as I've not even once seen evidence that they exist. Trust — and marvel at the simple and complicated fact that they live so close to so much that is deadly.
There's a woman who shops in the same local co-op as I do, and she once discovered a body in the park. It was a suicide, by gun, of a friend and neighbor just three houses from me. The woman who happened upon the body desired anonymity, but word gets out, and whenever I see her, usually in the produce department, surmising something as common as an onion, all I can see is my friend with half her face blown off. I've been tempted to scream, beside the celery.
As The Tearful Dishwasher says, "how do we reconcile the beauty with the horror?"
I am drawn time and again to these mythical otters, as well as to rumors of a heron rookery down past the dead-end of my street, perched in maples or alders above a ravine -- the same ravine where on a sunny Sunday afternoon twenty years ago a SWAT team apprehended a shooting suspect.
And yet we can't stop believing in the goodness of the universe, in possibilities, in hope.
Can't stop believing that sometime soon, in the wee hours, I'll stumble upon a raft of otters, and their nocturnal splashing in the tranquil pool of the lake will cancel out the lone siren half a mile away, the ambulance with its terrible and fragile cargo.