I was searching through my Google drive, trying to find a piece of Serious Writing so that I could make some revisions when I stumbled upon this delight: the fanciful little piece I once wrote a friend in an effort to explain my crazy, bird-hating ways.
I offer it here for your amusement. It is rather silly. But true.
Once upon a time in a land called Montague, Michigan, wee Jackie lived with her family in a house upon Meade Street. It had been a not-so-lovely place once—in fact it was a 100-year-old, condemned house—that Jackie’s grandfather, the Montague City Manager, had facilitated the purchase of, and then he and Jackie’s parents and Jackie’s other grandfather renovated and restored the home to livability. Nay, more than that: it became the perfect family home.
This house had upon its front a porch, and in the wall of the house flanked by the porch was an unused front door (Jackie’s family took to entering the home via the side door, hidden away within a lean-to-like structure used for storing bikes and strollers and the chest freezer full of corn and other garden abundance). Next to the door was a porch light that swathed the unused entrance in a warm glow each evening. And then next to the door and light was a picture window, which looked into the living room. Jackie could stand on the front porch and press her nose to the window, leaving a smudge of oil or traces of dirt from hours of playing in the sandbox or on the swing set in the backyard.
In the spring each year, the Michigan snow melted away and Jackie and her siblings could escape into the backyard for hours of unsupervised fun (this was the late ‘80s, people). The animals of the neighborhood woke up, too, reveling in the thawed air and rejoicing in the possibility of spring. Impregnated robins gathered bits of grass, and small twigs, and wove nests in trees and even on top of the porch light by the front door. Soon there were eggs and the hope of offspring—the hope that spring’s ritual would continue to unfold the way it always has, on and on and on into the imaginable future.
When the eggs hatched, Jackie and her siblings would creep to the front porch to listen, to watch baby birds crane their necks upward toward their mother, an instinct, a longing. And so they grew.
They grew and began, at Nature’s urging, to test their legs. To peep and hop about the nest while Mother Bird was away retrieving worms for their bellies–bellies housed within their perhaps ungrateful frames. How could they be grateful, though—how could they know anything was at stake? Only in tragedy does consequence make itself known. And their lives had been nothing yet. Eating. Peeping. Tentatively hopping.
And then one day the tentative became tragic. A little bird, obliging Nature’s stirring within her, rustled and moved about the nest—moved too far. Unable to fly, she plummeted without anything to break her downward momentum. Waiting for her was the cross-armed welcome of the porch’s concrete slab floor.
Soon Jackie and her siblings came creeping, creeping to the porch, in part to check on the peeping baby birds, in part perhaps just to play—they kept their kid-sized table and chairs on the slab for impromptu parties with mud pies and berry ‘tacos’ made from leaves with sticks skewering the sides together.
But their tea party was cancelled when they saw the prone figure, the underformed blob of bird whose shape would never be resolved, who would never fly, never nest, never offer Nature the ritual of the seasons.
Jackie’s mom would caution, gently but firmly: Don’t touch the germy bird!
Jackie had known that she wouldn’t want to run a finger across the small corpse, but now she was more than disinterested, she was repulsed. She imagined microscopic organisms swarming over the bird the moment it hit the ground. No, before. She imagined that the composition of the bird was not bone and flesh and feathers, but was instead the inertia of microorganisms, nastily swelling in the agreed shape of Bird and that to interrupt that swell, the flow, would be to invite a descent of vileness upon her finger. Scratch your cheek, your lip, and suddenly they are descending inside of you.
Jackie wished to forget the baby bird, hoped that the season of bird death would resolve when the hopping and peeping ones grew enough to take flight—to go and to never return.
But when the spring sun intensified into Midwestern summer blaze, the living room picture window that Jackie liked to press her nose to became portal. Became temptress, became Siren. Called to the birds of the neighborhood and brought them, hard, into her unyieldingness. Invited them, and ended them. They would thud against the glass, startling Jackie and her siblings as they played in the living room.
Their bodies decorated the porch until Jackie’s parents could sweep them away.