When the mailman demanded I come outside to receive a package a short breath ago, I found an orange and black thrush on the ground. It was male by its markings and quite dead. I have many floor-to-ceiling windows that birds mistake for an entrance, bang up against and break their necks. I brought him inside for closer examination. What a stunning fellow he was. The name thrush fell short in holding the splendor of his design. His colors looked like a blazing orange sunset against a black sky; the markings on his wings and collar were intricate. He had grace in his countenance even in death, or maybe especially in death. What a gift to hold him in my hands. I will save him for my granddaughter’s afternoon visit, then we’ll walk down the hill together and bury him.
Last year, while walking the library paths, I saw a Canadian goose flaying in the middle of the pond. Other geese were gathered around making a great ruckus. I feared he was caught in fishing line, so I waded knee-deep in February water to see what I could do. No one else was around. The others flew away as I gathered him in my arms without a struggle. He was gasping for air and panicked. I sang to him and lay his head against my shoulder as I walked back along the paths to my car. I was driving him to the vet when I realized his spirit had gone. He was suddenly cold, heavy and without movement. I pulled the car to the side of the road and wept at being too late to help.
Part of me felt I had stolen property from the park and wondered if I should return him, but decided it would only cause bureaucratic confusion, so I drove him home. I had a marketing meeting scheduled, which I had no time to change for. I brought the bird inside and put him in a basket while we did our business. Anthony, my marketing guy, kept looking over at him the whole time. He was having a little trouble concentrating on business with this large dead Canadian goose staring at him for a full hour; the unexpected is part of doing business with Karen. I took his body down the hill and buried it as Anthony’s car pulled out of the drive.
I believe I was a bird in another life. Birds are my people, my tribe, my feathered friends. I stop to collect their bones and feathers whenever I see them. Others comment on germs and lack of wisdom, but I will always reach for them, because I remember – and because their flight reminds me of the freedom I’ll have once again after I leave this body.