The Bird

There is a bird that flies in my imagination.  In my mind, she flits between personalities, sometimes fierce, sometimes tired, always symbolic.

I like to think that in her younger days she was like a swallow.   A creature of the summer sky, she would swoop through the crystal air, taking her chance to dance, just because she could.  She would cover vast distances easily; nothing would ruffle her sleek plumage.  Any danger or shadowy sense of doom would be outstripped by her speed and agility.

But, when I think about that bird, I cannot see her younger self.  The swiftness of the swallow exists purely as a moment in an imagination intent upon exploring a metaphor.  Far more powerful, more strongly imprinted on my mind’s eye is the bird of prey. Not showy; camouflaged. Easy to miss if you didn’t know she was there.

This bird sits (she does not perch); she claws herself into slick rock, or digs into the narrow platform of her solitary vantage post, her feathers separate and spiked in grey rain.  She does not fly often, rather, she waits, waits for a moment that, perhaps, will not come.  What she waits for I do not know. Perhaps a break in the weather, perhaps prey. Her stillness is her defining factor, punctuated by the flicks of feathers against the dripping rain, the flickers of focus that betray her gaze.  Hers is a world-weary eye.

She is the contrast to the movement that surrounds her.  The falling rain, the branches of the trees, disturbed by the howling wind. Leaves tumble and flutter to the ground. Birds, large and small, the young chasing, the old leading, navigate the rolling clouds. Her power is contained, restrained; her wings may itch to fly, to join her kind, but they do not stretch, her moments must be well chosen, too precious to squander on a flight of fancy.

For this bird is not the sort that flies, free from care or from responsibility. This bird is not the sort that has reached this point unscathed. She carries her past with her; her pain ensures the precious nature of every flight.

I wonder what stories she would tell, if only she could. I wonder what wisdom she would impart, but she settles, a shiver, a shrug of her shoulders, a hunch against the elements. I wonder who she hides beneath her wings.





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