Twitter: Red Birds

Church bells, and two mourning doves flying toward them.

These birds are using me for my birdbath.

A blue jay flew up to my kitchen window and looked at me as if to say, “Do you want your life to be wild, or do you want it to be precious?”

I am a screen for the shadows of birds.

The birds are the sky’s shadow puppets.

Now a butterfly is at my window. And a stink bug.

On Nextdoor, my neighbors are trying to pair monarch caterpillars with the milkweed plants they need to survive.

Today is a long drive behind a garbage truck.

I am thankful for trees, which provide homes for so many animals.

On the water, twisted leaves look like origami swans.

Fall: An American white pelican circles a small lake in Kansas.

Nostalgia: missing the bald eagles I saw yesterday.

My fingers are still purple from cutting fresh beets.

I love a red bird on a brown fence.

It’s enough to hear the songbird. I don’t turn my head.

Earlier, I saw an old man carrying a large stuffed dog. “I like your dog,” I said. “Don’t touch him,” he replied.

Suffering is a dwelling with a large doorway but very little interior space.

The female cardinal is the color of the red maple’s turning leaves.

Essays: Wings and Air

Leaves from our red oak appliqué the lawn. The fall-blooming plants have lost their flowers, save for two azaleas. Butterflies and moths have been visiting the azaleas since the butterfly bushes started dying back. Above, I see woodpeckers from time to time. They dance up and down the trunks of our sweet gums. I’ve seen a slate-colored junco on two occasions. Both times, he was sneaking over the fence to take a dip in one of our birdbaths.

We have three birdbaths. Before we moved to this house, I never paid attention to birds, at least not close attention. The birdbaths came with the home, a gift of sorts from the previous owner. The birds who visit our yard regularly were also a gift. Shortly after moving here, I decided it was time to do something about my long-held desire to identify the birds I saw. I got my wish when I was given a set of bird flashcards and a pair of binoculars. The View-Master effect of the binoculars made the whole world pop to life. I couldn’t believe such wonder existed right outside my door. I’ve spent countless hours not only watching birds but also examining trees, the sky, squirrels, the texture of all manner of surfaces, the shrubs at the back of the property that lean into each other like old friends, and so on.

One of my favorite birds is the junco. I remember them from when we lived here years ago, before we moved away (and subsequently moved back). They frequented the yard at our first house. I remember that time fondly. My trauma was about half what it is now, though those earlier traumas were closer to me, more deeply imprinted, less smoothed by time, effort and consideration. Now, the most recent traumas are the jagged ones. They jar me from sleep at night and intrude on my waking hours.

I’ve been fighting for a long time, for myself and for others. For the most part, I feel unheard and unseen. I am frustrated by the lack of literacy around trauma, oppression, discrimination, and other issues that profoundly affect people’s health and well-being. I am frustrated that neurotypicality is imposed on all levels and that social constructs are mistaken for truths.

The birds help. Immensely. They don’t give me answers, and that’s the whole point of paying attention to them. They allow me to stay on a little island called here and now, unaffected by what’s happened in my past and unburdened by the extremely difficult work of being heard above the din of prevailing beliefs and values.

In these small slices of time, there is nothing wrong, nothing at all. The world is wings and air, and I am part of it.

Twitter: Moon-Suns

The air is screaming, “Hawk! Hawk! Hawk!”

Hay bales settle into the shorn field.

I’ve been lost in a world of tiny mushrooms and painted lady butterflies.

Stained glass insect. Little windows in the air.

I want words to be smaller. I want to see the sky.

There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. — Thomas Merton

The sun, obscured by the moon, took on the shape of a moon. A confetti of moon-suns fell at my feet.

I will remember what I heard more than what I saw: hundreds of cicadas flexing their tymbals in the false-dark day.

And the one dying at my feet as we entered near totality.

I will remember silent streets and still air, charcoaled sky, the amber of streetlights.

I will remember any or all of this. Or none of it.

That old question surfaced: What matters?

I still don’t know. But here I am, with eyes.

how you can look back / on a life & see only salt there — Sam Sax

Who am I without the barn swallows?