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“Ravens are the birds I’ll miss most when I die. If only the darkness into which we must look were composed of the black light of their limber intelligence. If only we did not have to die at all. Instead, become ravens.”

― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

We’re always left to ponder,
where do birds go when they die?
Do they disintegrate in the air,
or return to the ground?

I held my last bird in my hands.
Willie.
As the vet injected him, I was able to pet his head for the first time,
and last.
I told him to say hello to the other birds when he gets there,
but it’s not heaven. Heaven doesn’t exist.
Ether does.
And the souls of all the little birds surround us, in the air beyond the clouds.

We’re always left to ponder,
where do the Ravens go when they die?
Do they, as the saying goes,
become part of the dark sky?
Are they shrouded by the ebony wings of their unkindred,
and die in secret?

Pigeon, I see your feathers on the ground.
Maybe just two with no body, perfectly staged like a killer’s art.
What did you take…
or what was taken from you?

We’re always left to ponder, how does the hummingbird die?
Tiny, fragile, in the cup of a hand,
or drowning in the nectar of a foxglove.

The gull and the salad

A gull landed softly on the concrete as I arrived.
It stared at me intently, then flew a bit away.
I wondered what it wanted
so far from the bay.

Under my car was a salad
Packed tightly with dressing inside
I flipped it over
And I was no longer mystified

I’m hungry, gull said, and I know what you can do
Use your hands on the plastic
Then bid me adieu

I pried open the prize, and set the packets aside,
then set it gently on its makeshift table.
I locked my car, and headed to BART,
hoping to look up as soon as I was able.

I was grateful, you see, to be of service,
to the gull far from home, looking for breakfast.
As I got to the train, I looked up its way,
but could not see the gull
and its salad buffet.

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t see the sun from here

is an anxiety

over she wished she could dance with them,
the inside, without leaving the little room.
The mind is cruel, she thinks, and love,
a hard outcome in a forest too sinister to burn,
cast itself, and sing. The audience claps.

Her life, she concludes, is a waiting room.
“Push”, she says, “I need someone to push.”
She could say someone told her so
but friendship is irresponsible,
too many things to look forward to.

It is Friday, the time she decides best.
When boredom turns to anxiety and anxiety to smiles,
this is the reason for art.
“Disgust gives birth to freedom,” she mumbles,
“and comfort is treacherous.”
After all, she hums what she feels
and she can fool the rest.

So now she is glad.
she likes the thoughts the sun smell brings
when she wasn’t a victim.
She knows what trust isn’t.
The stone of a single stroke,
crying builds and destroys everything.

She sleeps this Friday, this justified sleep.
Tomorrow she will try again to be model,
but she can’t see the sun from here.

Adaptation

I don’t say she’ll have to work around interruptions and invisibility and micro-aggressions and a scarcity of role models and a lifetime of her own conditioning. My job on this panel is to make this place sound good, so I leave some stuff out. Particularly the fact that I’m drinking at least one bottle of wine a night to dissolve the day off of me. – Kristi Coulter, “Enjoli”

This post started out as a bunch of pondering, pontification, and platitudes. There’s nothing worse then someone giving you a life lesson who has had a terrible go navigating her own.

I’ll just cut to the chase; the other day I had a sit-down with someone who speaks in a way so tedious that you feel like you’re enduring a history lesson from the civil war. You have no idea why you’re talking about the civil war or why anyone would think that you cared. As I watched this person float in and out of the realization that they were talking to a person with their own thoughts and perspectives, I too had my own thoughts about how to navigate the conversation, mostly to end it and dig a hole somewhere for me to stick my head in. Just when I think I’ve figured out how people work or I have some key to mapping the course that’s laid before me, the route changes.

A surprising thought came to me after, that birds have been adapting to the changing landscape for 80 million years, and it gave me some comfort, that I wasn’t alone. I even felt some compassion for the “professor,” albeit briefly. I’m no Mister Rogers.

The narrator from the movie “Winged Migration (2003)” says “The story of bird migration is the story of promise – a promise to return.” In one of the more poignant scenes a flock of birds are taking their same 9,000 mile journey, only to land on a large deck of a ship, the usual spot where they would find sustenance, water, or escape the elements for a while. The look on the birds’ faces is heartbreaking; they are so confused and tired as they wander around the ship. I could only watch the movie once.

I hope that in my navigating this earth I return someplace where I am safe, where I know the road home, even if it’s just within myself. I am satisfied that this is my lot, the daily adventure of living.

Fleeting

“The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It’s overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt.” — Leo Buscaglia

Several years ago my sister was murdered by her boyfriend and dumped down a cliff in Kaloloch, Washington State. You can read a little about it here. What’s interesting is that I have no idea who Robert Scott was, but I can tell you this — my sister Robin was never in love with anyone, especially the man who killed her.

Why I keep returning to this memory is beyond me, except that a flock of American Robins have been sitting outside in a sycamore for the past few days. I think they are taking advantage of the worms that have resurfaced from the rains. They are such beautiful birds and every time I see one I say “hello, Robin” as a nod to my sister.

Robin taught me that relationships with the opposite sex are just one of the stories we are given to live by, but the people in those stories aren’t always happy, or make it out alive. When I lived with her I only remembered how sour she was; her big thighs thundering through the house, her head always hung in sorrow on her broad shoulders, or the way she flipped her red hair with her left hand – that nervous tick.

So, I tried to remember some good things about her.

I remembered that she taught me to ride a horse, and when driving a car, how to slow down instead of braking on a curve.

But I was also reminded that life is fleeting, and that you should not wish your days away, and embrace those that lift you up.

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