Sunday, November 01, 2015

And Your Bird Can't Sing

This happened about twelve years ago.

I was taking what would be called, in 19th Century European literature, a constitutional, what would now be called a stroll around the neighborhood, or a clearing of one's head, when I saw a bird hopping on one leg. It was hopping on one leg because it only had one leg, and it was trying, unsuccessfully, to poke its beak through a garbage bag full of food waste.

I stopped and considered this scene while smoking a cigarette. I haven't kicked my nicotine addiction in the twelve years hence, but I've smartened up a bit and don't smoke while walking around in public. I don't think that's relevant to this telling, but there are a lot of things I don't know.

The bird, a magpie, was poking its beak at a yellow plastic garbage bag so desperately. With only one leg, I guessed that it was not going to survive long.

This was profoundly depressing. In a better world, I could have scooped up the poor bird and taken it to a bird hospital, where it could be fitted for a new prosthetic bird leg by bird doctors and eventually rejoin its bird friends. But as depressing as that was at the time, I quickly forgot about it -- because I had other things on my mind: work, the birth of my daughter, the war in Iraq.

Walking home, I noticed that the bird wasn't around. But I could hear a sound, somewhere: wings flapping in a confined space.

I followed that sound into the basement floor of a 3-story villa-style apartment. There, on the ground and frantically trying to flap its wings, was the magpie. It died before I could try do anything to try to save it.

I had forgotten about that for a long time.

I think I recalled it because, now, I'm the magpie.

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