One Dead Bird

May 29, 2008
By Mallory Zimmermann, Hartland, WI

It frightened her, it fascinated her. It broke her little-girl’s heart and riveted her shameless mind. One dead bird, crumpled in a feathery heap. One, with legs stuck stiffly into the air, with a halo of ragged feathers spread like confetti around it. One dying bird that looked pathetic and helpless. A heap of sharp spindly bones, all the majesty knocked out. Aggie could feel its wild suffering, but her mother would call it dirty and disgusting; her mother would not appreciate the sharp animal pangs of a young girl’s brazen mind.

One dying bird that didn’t belong on the cracked sidewalk cement, its world flipped violently upside-down. Now its home, the cotton candy fluff clouds and endless ocean of weightless sky, hung above it like a cruel mobile, out of reach and moving on. Aggie feels its anger and hopelessness, shares its shapeless emotions.

A bird doesn’t fall because it forgot its reason for being, forgot how to fly. A girl doesn’t fall because she forgets how to be. Things just keep being and being, and Aggie saw this as she saw the sky moving and moving, leaving the bird behind, below.

One dying bird taught her things, as its beak clacked open and closed, beaded with blood, saying nothing and saying everything. It taught her life moved forever, on and on, anon, past everything. Past mothers, past authority, past prudery and customs and shame and fear, even past little girls. One dying bird became one dead bird. And one dead bird taught Aggie to live.

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