Landlocked Lies — A Dream

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“Landlocked Lies” — C.Birde, 1/18

 

An antique city, all sharp curves and unexpected angles. Filigree cast-iron gaslights line the wide sidewalks. Worn stone buildings, carved in relief, march along cobblestone streets…

There, across the street, one corner building curves back sharply on itself in a flatiron shape. Narrow alleys slide past, follow its long sides out of sight. Here, the streets are thick with a clamor of people – they spill out onto the cobblestones, eddy back and forth in incessant motion. All except one woman, who holds and defines her own space within the human river. Stationed before the flatiron building, she is dressed in a formal riding habit of tailored black velvet jacket and long skirt; a high-collared white shirt with lace at neck and sleeves; a veiled, men’s style top hat; and low-heeled hook-and-button boots.

While the sea of people swells around her, she cries out suddenly, calls attention to the “Little Green Heron” she has found! Such a surprise! Such an unanticipated and marvelous happenstance! Indeed, a medium-sized semi-aquatic bird waddles near her —  it pulls occasionally at her skirts with its long, narrow, hook-ended beak. Most ignore the woman’s exclamations. But the crowd constantly reinvents itself with new folk, and gives her renewed opportunity to draw any attention she can to the “Little Green Heron”.

But it is not a Little Green Heron at all; it is clearly a double-crested cormorant. In addition, there is no reason she should be at all surprised at its proximity, for each time she crosses from one curb of the narrow corner to another, she reaches inside her riding habit and pulls out a small fringed, burgundy purse that is filled with fish. With a gloved hand, she rations morsels to the sleek-feathered black bird that shuffles its webbed feet over the cobbles and struggles to keep up.

 

— C.Birde, 1/18

 

Starlings — A Poem

 

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“Departure” — C.Birde, 1/18

 

Air,

churned in a blur

and stir of wings;

the back yard darkens.

Comedic clatter

of squawks and hiccups

and slide-whistle song.

The starlings arrive —

collect an offering

of days’ old cornbread

scattered —

like fool’s gold —

in haphazard pattern

over broken snow.

Goldenrod legs and

stiletto beaks

stalk and stab each

crumb until,

as one,

the flock lifts

in unpredicted tide

of departure.

 

— C.Birde, 1/18

 

Taken Away — A Dream

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“Taken Away” — C.Birde, 1/18

 

“So. We’re driving away from the cabin in the woods. Away from all the trees and green and birdsong. Where I thought I’d get some writing done.”

Beside me, she lifts one shoulder and looks apologetic. She always looks apologetic. For everything. Even when it’s not her fault.

“And we’re going to a day spa. A resort.”

Another big-eyed, silent half-shrug.

“I am not dressed for a spa.”

This time, she lifts both shoulders in a full shrug — noncommittal, nonjudgmental.

“They get all the seats, and we have to sit all the way back here.”

To illustrate our shared discomfort, the station wagon hits a tooth-rattling bump – my head strikes the ceiling’s inner shell. The wagon’s available seats are occupied by white-haired women in pastel sweat suits.

“And, on top of this…”

This is the point I’ve been working toward throughout my monologue; the point I’ve been trying to wrap my head around through the act of speaking; hoping that somehow, stringing words together in sentences that describe the concrete facts surrounding me, I might be able to make sense of what she’s said, accept her statement as truth.

“On top of all this, you’re telling me that we have different fathers? The man I thought was my father all these years was not? My father died before I could remember him?”

She bites her lower lip, nods silently.

With a sudden violence, a vision plays out before my mind’s eye — a man clutching his abdomen, seeking to contain the blood that seeps through his fingers. A look of shock on his face, of surprise in his eyes behind charcoal-rimmed glasses.

The station wagon hits another bump. My vision clears; incredulity remains.

She — still beside me, rattling along in the seatless, way-back of the wagon — wears, now, a look of pity. Softly, she pats my hand.