He will cover
you with his plumage
under his wing then
you will rest
W.G. Sebald wrote those lines with Samuel Beckett in mind. But I am also thinking of the sound of the swans–and those wild boys turned back to men by their suffering, and burning, sister in Anderson’s The Wild Swans.
And then there is Yeats and his Wild Swans at Coole:
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Which brings me to Nick Cave’s To Be By Your Side which to some seemed an inappropriate bookend to Winged Migration. To me it was appropriate–yes anthropomorphic, perhaps, if you cannot unstick yourself from the literality. But what about the thing that happened to me when I saw a wild bird–
When I read Bidart’s line:
The voice of the bird you could not help
I am inclined to drop the next bit:
but respond to
although it is integral to the poem:
I stop at that line because that is the voice I keep hearing. The bird I could not help–the bird’s I cannot help. The beings I cannot help. Ah…
I stopped at a reputable bird store today–to pick up enrichment items for my birds (and our pet rats as well). This was on the way home from the vet where I stopped with two of our kitties. A strange brew we live with.
I thought about my post while I was in the parrot store. There are many birds in there, captive hatched and reared. They are beautiful, funny and healthy. The people that work and shop there adore their birds and I wondered as I accumulated items for my birds, who am I to deny the bond between these creatures, human and nonhuman. And, if my birds are a bit naughty, if they feather pick and bite–this is entirely my fault. Which, perhaps it is although I am doing my best for them.
I did, by the way, take them out in the sun in the new birdie backpack. Whether or not they liked it was hard to tell but I enjoyed their company.
I also, by the way, bought them a new DVD–they have been watching Life of Birds and My Neighbor Totoro–this is a parrot movie.
I suspect the inclination to buy these products to enrich our birds’ lives is an indication of a problem.
The parrots were delightful in the store. But they are winged creatures and in the store and our lives they are tethered to the earth. They are tethered to relationships.
Why don’t the cats bother me so much. Domestic felines chose our company–parrots did not.
Why don’t the rats bother me so much. They do not fly.