It was a lovely morning outside and so I opened a window to be closer to nature.
A bird flew in the window, the flutter of wings a quick shadow across my face.
It crashed into a mirror on the wall and fell dead upon the floor.
Stunned. Then the guilt of my species fell on me
for our murderous slyness,
for our fatal triumphs and manipulative manufacture
come home to roost
in a pile of feathers and broken bones upon the floor
beneath an illusory window into heaven
hung upon a wall.
I put the bird away.
I closed the window.
I did not want to be that close to nature;
neither the bird’s
nor my own.
I decided not to walk in the woods down along the river.
I stayed home with my books and read
where the shadow of the bird lay.
It would not go away.
I looked in books of well-bound words.
I looked in mirrors of memory staring at the blank wall.
I looked to see what truth was present
In the shadow on the floor.
Melancholy? Acceptance? Fate?
I have books about these things.
I have books about birds, and mirrors,
books about windows and walls
books about rationalism and romanticism
books about peace and war.
I even have a book which recounts an ancient story
told by campfires long ago
down by the river in the woods
where today I will not go.
It is a story about gods and grain
and the sun and moon and the augurs of when
seeds are planted and harvested,
a story of the grindstone rock, and water and fire,
which, when applied in clever manufacture,
gives us our daily bread.
It is now called a recipe book.
The story handed down and down and down
is stripped of all sagacious portent and mystery,
the sage, the prophet, the fierce, hypnotic tribal historian,
gone, gone, all gone.
Gone the sun, the moon, the seed
the rock and fire and water. Now –
it says right here – all we need
are numbers and a measure known
to be three hundred and fifty degrees.
Which must surely amount to not near the number
of ancient campfires unremembered
and describe the fineness of our ways with lumber, I think,
refined down now to the tissue-thin page upon which are hung
these mirrors made of ink.
Ten degrees more and we will have come full circle.
I like that. It feels a portent augur of the answer.
Not the answer for us, no.
The answer to us.
There is the shadow of the bird again.