Élan

The birds

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have no idea I am looking at them, from behind this red brick wall. I ought to however immediately stop writing about my perspective, because the birds will sense it, and tiny-brained narcissists they are, it will offend them, and send them away. What I am doing is not attempting to catch them, because I am well-aware I don’t stand a chance. They were not named Swifts haphazardly. Or Chickadees. Or Juncos. If I am not mistaken, these are Juncos. So if I am not here to catch them, what am I doing exactly?

Excellent question. I hope more than anything you will find my answer excellent, too.

I am after a feeling. After the feeling I feel only when I look at birds. It is not hunger, although this feeling is a kin of hunger. It is not desire, I can only give a bird pleasure by letting it go, although if this feeling looked at itself in a mirror it would be justified to mistake desire for itself.

I am a cat that birdwatches because what birds make me feel is yearning. And yearning beckons the empathy and participation of deities in my attempts to gain mastery over the supernatural. I would want to do such a thing because I am a figure always on the threshold between the living and the dead. And part of my duties is that everyone stays in their place.

The fact that the place is one, where we all are, is the topic of another poem, altogether. In this one, we end thusly:

Watching the brambles and the branches and the leaves, and the two birds there that are so still now so as to be mistaken for leaves, but you and I know they are too birdshaped to be leaves. Stay perfectly still as they begin to hop from twig to twig, it really is something wonderful to behold. Not to mention the thrill of watching a third bird like a dart from the arrow of Cupid itself descend – swiftly, of course – among them. I, who have cavorted and sashayed with South London’s most beautiful felines, can safely say that never have I seen anything so beautiful, as those birds, darling Juncos, leaping, from twig to twig.

My whole life, steeped in this feeling, please.

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