The Owls Watch
On a branch in the top of the poplar tree, far down at the bottom of the garden, the owls sit, watching. Like a row of pious, brown cloaked friars they wait, silently wondering when the performance will commence.
Knee deep in the carpet of emerald ivy, hidden away from the rapier gaze of the owls, a family of rabbits nestles shoulder to shoulder - patient, alert.
The mice nibble birdseed nervously, looking up, wishing again that they were taller.
The navy blue big top sky is festooned with glittering stars, each a tiny spotlight to illuminate the stage set below. Only the March wind dares to make a sound tonight.
Suddenly, the owls sit up straighter, lemon yellow eyes fixed in unblinking stares.
A rabbit’s nose twitches.
A mouse drops a sunflower seed.
Look. There he is, the masked bandit of the midnight circus, making his way up the tallest pine tree. Furry gasps are heard as this acrobat jumps to the highwire roof of the studio, and stops. Has he lost his nerve? No, no, here he goes... cautiously, carefully... one nimble paw in front of the other, his ringed tail following behind him like a convict’s shadow.
Never looking down...yes, that’s the trick.
Perhaps he’ll make it to the other side tonight.
Perhaps he won’t get caught.
A hero raccoon at last.
But with a sound like a gun shot, a door flies open and the large white dog flies down the steps - roars down the pathway. The dog looks up in growling shock to see the silhouette of the audacious bandit himself, a black cut-out in the dark blue sky, frozen precisely on the tightrope of the roof, impossibly high.
The two creatures lock eyes.
For a millisecond, all the world holds its breath.....then explodes.
A fur-scurrying, feather-flapping, claw-sliding melee ... a cacophony of chattering, scrambling, barking, chirping, cheeping, as everyone runs from everyone else, clamboring up and over fences, diving headfirst into burrows, feetfirst into nests.
Indignant, the big white dog stands alone in the clearing and shakes himself furiously. To get his fur back in place; to regain his composure. With a final warning glare over his left shoulder and one last huruump to the darkness, he trots back up the pathway, satisfied that once again he has saved his family from certain danger. What on earth would they do without him?
Back through the silent garden he goes - back up the stairs, back into the house.
Back to the warmth of his bed.
While up, up, from their seats in the balcony, the owls watch.