Corner of Carl & Arguello

356 total words    

1 minutes of reading

Photo Credit: Jack Wolf

I am here. Right. Here.

Shortly before midnight, a great horned owl announces its presence at the corner of Carl and Arguello Streets. Perched atop my apartment building, ten feet above the bed in which I lay sleepless, the bird punctuates the quiet night with its territorial proclamations.

I am here. Right. Here.

I close my eyes and listen for other sounds in between the owl’s calls. My cat’s untrimmed nails click over the hardwood floor as he approaches the bed. Blocks away, a car door closes and the alarm arms with a beep-boop. My pregnant wife rolls over in her sleep, dragging a leg over the bedsheets with a pacific whoosh.

I am here. Right. Here.

Here, above the still, parked cars. Here, above the sidewalk painted a muted chartreuse by the humming street lamps. Here, above the ivy that fringes the parking garage from which rats emerge to forage. Here, with keen, predatory eyes.

I am here. Right. Here.

I hear the distant rumble of a western-bound N-Judah light rail approaching, and presume the owl will take flight when the train clamors underneath us. I become even more convinced of the bird’s imminent departure when I realize a second N is nearing on the eastern-bound track.

I am here. Right. Here.

This, faint but audible, as the apartment building trembles and reverberates with the sound of the two trains sighing, banging, and grumbling past.


The din of the trains fades. The owl does not call.

My cat, softly purring, performs his ritual arrangement on the bed near my feet, preparing for yet another sleep. On top of the dresser, my wife’s cell phone jerks and emits a low buzz, acknowledgement of someone, somewhere, sending her a text message.

I am here. Right. Here.

The owl, again. Evidently unperturbed.

I draw my body close to my wife’s. Semi-conscious of my presence, she produces a contented sigh and caresses my foot with her own.

I am here. Right. Here.


Photo credit (on page) : Christopher Reiger, above Carl & Arguello Streets; San Francisco, CA, March 2015. 

Photo credit (header): Jack Wolf, great horned owl, Creative Commons license.

  • Christopher Reiger

    Christopher Reiger is an artist, writer, and photographer fascinated by natural history, conservation, & ecology. He's Virginia rooted, NYC steeped, and transplanted in Northern California, where he's working to spread roots. His artwork and illustration can be viewed on his website ( and you can keep up with his art and outdoor adventures on Instagram @christopherreiger.

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