The archaeology of grief is not ordered. It is more like earth under a spade, turning up things you had forgotten. Surprising things come to light: not simply memories, but states of mind, emotions, older ways of seeing the world. The rabbit [that had died on the street] was a ghost from the apocalypse of my childhood, and later that week another appeared. This one was not a rabbit, but a book. I had pulled it from my friend’s shelves: a new edition of J. A. Baker’s The Peregrine, the story of a man obsessively watching wintering wild peregrines in the Essex countryside of the late 1960s. I’d not read it for years. I remembered it as a poetic celebration of nature. But as I started reading it I found it was not like that at all. This, I thought with a chill, comes from the same place as that rabbit. I saw in it the writer’s awful desire for death and annihilation, a desire disguised as an elegy for birds that flew through poisonous skies, falcons as searing-bright and pewter-flashed as reflected sun, already things of memory before they were ever gone.

Helen Macdonald, H Is for Hawk