A Study of Three Usual Birds

“Memory of Water” by Letisia Cruz

I. Red-Winged Blackbird
On a walk through the farm, I hear the tsk-tsk chack call of a red-winged blackbird. He is on a honey locust limb, the oblong red streak of his wing flickers in the sunlight, beckoning like the cut of cheekbones. A God-granted line from eye to lip, feather-tip to breast bone.

The melodic ring of his burry whistle turns high. He is being coy. I comply, turn my head. I stand beneath him. With each call, his tail flicks back and his neck elongates—the bucking of a child after a belly-flop.

Around me are weeds high and green. We have let things grow, and I am thrilled by the density of the grass, the ants crawling across my ankle. I think to collapse back and snow-angel the brush, tamp down the teeming cells in my own image.

But there is no shedding of clothes and rooting here.

The red-winged blackbird moves back and forth on the branch. He cannot be still, and the branches are not low enough for me to climb. I am alone on this walk and the bird is alone in the tree.

II. Blue Jay
I pour coffee from a French press, a Blue Jay looking at me through the kitchen’s glass doors. The dirt by my stoop is rich with something sustaining. All the birds want it. They gather and the Blue Jay looks at me intently. His blue, the pure, wholesome blue of pie and long kisses in the backseat of cars.

The Blue Jay is smooth like a cup and common like dust. I adore you, I say, and he turns his head to look over the crest of the hill. He sounds his bright call, and my words fall away in the wake of it, taken by the wind, along with the dandelion seeds. When he leaves, I step out of my house to look for him. A beagle, her teats low and full, jumps the step and crosses the threshold onto the linoleum. I shoo her away. You are not the one I’m looking for, I say.

III. Wild Turkey
A wild turkey starts from the wood. He passes me, calling quick and flying low. I see his stippled wings and his long, long neck charging forward to a safe, uninhibited space.

I walk to the wood where the bird was. I hope to find another—roosting, brooding.

Instead, I find a disintegrating foundation, green moss marbling a stone wall. Around the foundation rest logs thick with rot. I am surrounded by plants I cannot name. The turkey is no longer in sight.

How curious—a wild turkey and a stack of rubble—both capable of being domesticated, both susceptible to decay, and both now, totally, utterly wild.


by Kaylen Mallard