Or rather, “Caw caw caw caw.”
Today I was walking under a telephone pole when I heard a strange noise coming from above. It was a single burst of sound, somewhere between a honking squawk and a squawking honk, which felt to me as being both organic and yet artificial.
I kept walking, but when I heard it again I simply had to stop and find its source. At the top of the pole sat a large black bird. It made the sound again, and I simply stared at the bird while my brain debated whether this was a raven or a crow. I had looked it up once, but I couldn’t remember any of the descriptions which would help me make a determination. “Caw,” it said, as if trying to teach me a foreign language.
There is nothing in the vocalization of this bird which maps onto the sounds of the word “caw” as said by a human. The bird has no vowels or consonants. Look at this list of words for the sound a crow makes in various languages. Most of them begin with a hard, guttural letter, and most of them have a long vowel drawn out behind it. All of them are a poor approximation for the sound I heard today.
I stood there, beneath the telephone pole, and watched the bird shout its thoughts to the air. I stood there and counted the bursts as if there was a coded message in it just for me. Four caws, three caws, five then two, with pauses in between. I stood there and listened and toyed with the idea that the universe could be sending me a signal from the other side of the simulation we live in, telling me that there is a bigger world beyond what we currently see.
The bird was silent for a stretch of time. I waited, and I asked it to repeat its message, because I hadn’t been paying attention to the beginning of its stream. The bird started up again, with four caws, then three, then four again. I wondered why I never heard more than five caws in a row, and then the bird cawed six times.
I did not write down the message. I hope it wasn’t important.