Pixel. Most people probably think my family was crazy for getting so emotionally attached to this tiny cockatiel. At first, so did I. Maybe I was jealous – after all, we were both vying for the position as “baby of the family.” I was never really as nice to her as I could’ve been, but everyone knew that I secretly thought she was cute. After she died, I felt guilty for never letting her know I cared. Did she really know the difference though? Maybe not, but I sure do.
As a kid, I had many friends, some of them quite feathery. Often my grandparents’ hens occupied my silly self for the entire day. I would dart up and down the garden, searching for weed. Then, with my finds in a small pail, I would squat and start feeding the hens, one sprig at a time. When lunch was over, I had to make sure that they get their afternoon nap. I would grab a hen, put its head under its wing and start swaying it gently, while singing “Nani-naaa!” Once it was asleep, I would proceed to the next.
It caught my eye immediately. High over the desert planes, a darting green shape zooms through the sky. The sun gleams around the outlines of the moving thing, making a spotlight. I hold my flattened hand over my brow so I can observe the object. It is gone.
Whoosh. There it is again. The green thing—a bird—is twirling through space. It’s underbelly has brighter hues of orange than yellow, and its tail spreads out into a narrow fan. What kind of green birds exist in this desert? The bird squeaks and lands on a cactus. It is a parrot.
Ability to escape, unquestioned, from uncomfortable environments on a periodical basis. Tendency to wake up before dawn and have the urge to greet the sun in song. Power to act without the constraints of fate. Nests, warm and welcoming, places to call home. Fulfilment. Family. Freedom, interlaced with a sense of no boundaries, mental or physical. Companionship in the form of generally organized flock, which offers protection and support. Admiration, awe. Possibility of free access to the best views. Lack of traffic jams. Carefreeness. Playfulness. Lightness, in all manifestations.
Antonym — Grounded.
The condition, often permanent, of being able to soar…
Locked in a Victorian bell jar, seven birds perch, land, stare in perpetual paralysis: among them an evening grosbeak, a bluebird, a wren. Friends and family think me strange to have collected this bit of oddness. They think me bizarre to place it on a table in the livingroom where visitors will see it, where they will see it. It makes no sense for a sometimes vegetarian to own such a thing, I know, except that it propels me back to childhood and the university museums of England where explorers left their treasures, pinned and stuffed within vast, cluttered cabinets.
Its wings spread wider than I am tall. It feels the breezy lake water through outstretched finger tips. Peach fuzz for feathers, this bird is rooted to the island like the lizards and the reeds that wrap it up at night. It basks in the weak sun and fans back and forth. Empty eyes lock with our cool silver cameras. With a dip of the beak, it nuzzles its nose into its plush coat to cast modest eyes on my lens. Is it posing?
I take two steps forward and pause with my arm outstretched. Fuzz slips between my fingers.