Small Creatures — A Dream

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“Owl” — C.Birde, 8/17

 

Singly and in pairs, they arrive — men and women, dressed in jewel-toned satin and velvet gowns, in embroidered cravats and dark silk tuxedos. They sweep into the ancient, compact castle — more of a turret, in truth, or a fortress. Clustered in small knots about a great length of dining room table, they bloom against the bare, gray stone floor and walls. Soft conversation flickers with candlelight.

But their arrival is earlier than expected. Unprepared, shake each proffered hand. Kiss signet rings, the backs of smooth wrists. Return each smile, each warm greeting. Hear not one comment, nor one remark regarding disheveled hair, tattered clothing, unwashed odor. Surely, they notice. Kindness stills their tongues; propriety.

At last, the number of arrivals diminishes, ceases. Slip away. Slowly, back towards the small door, that ellipse of wood within stone. Quietly, quietly — ease the door open. Steal through the narrow fissure to enter a small, round stone chamber. Softly, pull the door shut. Lean against it.

Spread across the chamber’s floor — rumpled and crumpled and imbued with blue shadows — is a great sweep of strewn white cloth. To the left of the closed door, a stone staircase sweeps upward, follows the tight curve of the turret’s exterior wall. Set foot on the bottommost step. Notice the white cloth shiver and move. A kitten – small, gray-and-white, with the short stand-up tail of the newly born — wriggles out from the fabric’s folds. Mewing, comically determined, it follows along behind, up the steps.

Climb. Five steps. Six. Seven. With the kitten directly behind. See, at eye-level on the steps ahead, a frantic blur of yellow motion. A fledgling canary with curiously long feathers. Scoop the bird up – out of the kitten’s reach. Feel the brush of soft feathers, the tick of small talons against skin. Watch the canary lift up, flutter out and away. Its extraordinarily long wing- and tail-feathers flow like ribbons of sunlight. Over the kitten. Down the steps. To safety.

Continue climbing. Arrive at another small, wooden door. Push. Beyond it, find a circular room with high-vaulted ceiling. White porcelain sink and toilet and bathtub gleam against gray stone walls and floor. A single window stares out into darkness. Across the room, a narrow, arched doorless exit leads down a corridor… Cross the room. Step into that arch of stone-darkened throat. Set hands on a small gate, draw it out from the wall — a makeshift barrier that will lend privacy to the bath.

Again, movement. There, further down the corridor, emerging from the dark — a tall, trim man. Dressed in soft brown tweeds. A bulge beneath his jacket and vest. Approach carefully, step toward him. Peer — curious, eyes squinting — at the lump caught gently, safely against his breast, buttoned up beneath the tweed vest. See a small, smooth-feathered crown; wide gold eyes within a heart-shaped face — a barn owl.

Listen as the man explains: Out on the darkened lawn, far below the castle, five shapes lay motionless as shadow. Each a barn owl — four young, one adult. All but he had passed by, oblivious. None but he had taken note, gone to investigate. Had found one young owl alive amongst the five.

From the deep vee opening of the man’s vest, see the barn owl blink. Smitten, reach out. Stroke the smooth, white-feathered head. Feel the sharp clench and wrench of heart.

 

— C.Birde, 8/17

 

Whales and Wailing — A Dream

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“Whales & Wailing” — C.Birde, 8/17

 

The building is a single story, squat and square with walls made entirely of windows. Situated on the beach, it stares blindly over the great, gray stretch of ocean. Lace-edged waves lap and curl against the sandy shore. All seems tranquil, quiet. Stand before the barrier windows, though, hands pressed to the glass; glance left – the serenity is broken. A killer whale is caught in the shallow water, breached. Taut, sleek ,black and white skin runs with seawater. A pectoral fin lists skyward. The large mouth, arrayed with rows of sharp teeth, hangs slack – a shadowed pink cavern.

Howl an animal cry. For the waste of life. For the selfishness. For callous business decisions and profit margins that disregard the larger picture. For the tangled and interconnected web in which we are all a part. For compassionless, human hubris.

Howl again, in anguish while all those surrounding continue, unpreturbed, with their individual tasks. Heads bent over papers and devices, they remain unaware, detached. Unconcerned for the great creature’s suffering and passing; unmoved by the strangled human wail that issues from amidst their own.

All but one. She approaches. A little girl, wide-eyed and concerned. How old – eight, nine, ten? She feels it, too. The grief. The suffering. But her hand is firm, her touch warm. Her very presence anchors, halves the pain.

Cling to her. Don’t let go. Fight it. Together.

 

— C.Birde, 8/17

 

 

Blueberry Moon — A Poem

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“Blueberry Moon” — C.Birde, 8/17

 

Crickets sing

a tidal song —

legion notes united,

lapping one

against another.

Too close,

too rapid to measure

the hairsbreadth space

between,

to take the night’s

aural temperature.

But it is cool for August.

Pull the blankets up.

Listen –

The crickets’ evensong

washes

against thin-paned glass,

and bears

the swollen Moon

through

Her arching

transit.

 

— C.Birde, 8/17

 

Capture — A Dream

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“Capture” — C.Birde, 7/17

 

Wrestle him to the ground. Feel the hard bite of blacktop on hips, shoulders, elbows. Knuckles rasp and bleed. Bruises form. These facts are fleeting, unimportant. Scuffle and roll. Work to pry the camera from his grip. This is no easy task, for Alec Baldwin is determined – and large. But the camera isn’t his; it belongs to the little girl. She mourns its loss, boards the bus with her mother, weeping. The bus idles for a moment at the curb, signals blinking, tailpipes emitting smoke.

Prize the camera from Baldwin’s hands, and rise triumphant, sweating and panting. Watch the bus pull away. It chugs down the street, slowly gathers speed. Must return the camera to the little girl. Jump onto another bus before its accordion doors can close. Stand on the steps in the open doorway. Right hand clutches the camera. Left hand grasps the metal handhold, cool and smooth to the touch. Lean past the doorway, through the narrow gap into the open air.

Slowly, the bus gathers speed. Breeze whips against flesh, tangles hair. Squint to see. Velocity increases in increments – thirty miles an hour, forty, fifty-five, seventy-five. The camera’s lens cap careens wildly against its black nylon tether, cracks against ulna and radius. Cling to camera and handhold both. Remain anchored. Do not lose hope. Even as traffic lights interfere with pursuit. Even as the distance between buses yawns and increases. Reunion of camera and girl is guaranteed. Success is imminent.

 

— C.Birde, 7/17