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Up All Night

As she struggles to accept the sounds of violence between predator and prey, writer Tai Moses learns to hear beauty in the darkness.

Photo Credit: Joel Moses

The other night, I lay in bed listening to the high, thin shriek of some animal being eaten by some other animal. While we are indoors reading books, watching flickering screens, or sleeping safely under the blankets, the night creatures are out there, hunting, killing, eating, mating, birthing, and dying in the darkness. They creep through the leaves and scuttle along the eaves, making cryptic sounds that cause us to turn to one another in bed and say, “Did you hear that?”During the day, my neighborhood seems idyllic, alive with the melodic trills and chirrups of birds. But at night, the sounds of predation filter through the windows. I hear cries of fear and terror as nests and dens are invaded, eggs eaten, and young carried off. The night is filled with a ravening hunger. Last year, the towhees built their nest in the clematis vine, and one night a raccoon found it and devoured the nestlings. I heard the parent birds screeching, a scuffle, and then silence. The next morning, the nest was gone, tumbled from the vine’s protecting tendrils, and the towhees were gone as well.Sometimes the sounds of night …

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