Years ago I wrote a poem about a heart-wrenching incident in Toronto. I was living in an illegal basement of a house; I often went to the backyard -an overgrown weeded area and worked on it. It gave me a little escape from a gloomy basement (how many of us like the idea of being below ground?)
One day I was tidying up the back and found a fresh addition:a dead blue jay. Although my mother taught me that a bird in the house is an omen of death, I wasn’t sure what this was. I didn’t think the incident was trivial: it seemed too emotionally charged. I was trying to say something to myself. I just wasn’t sure what. I called the Humane Society and asked them what I should do. Were there rules on burial? Procedures to follow? They sent a man in a truck who unceremoniously picked up the bird and chucked it into a box. He snapped it shut, said, “Nope. No procedures” and walked away. I stared blankly. Was that all the poor little thing was worth? A stiff body thrown into a human’s box. I wrestled with it for a while and finally the poem came out. It probably wasn’t very good, but it helped me to say goodbye to the bird that had probably swooped over my head many a time.
I added another chapter to this incident and the question of death today. I went onto my patio, the construction men hammering and buzz-sawing next door. I began to sweep up my patio. I watered the plants I put in so late. Would they make it and yield anything edible? Would flowers pop up and bloom?
I turned to examine the other side and found my friend the bird. Poor little thing. It must have flown into the wall and died. At least I hope it died like that -quickly. It was so ironic. It’s little body was a stiff as a board, yet its feathers were groomed and baby skin soft. I felt like something was wrong. The scene just wasn’t right.
My mind twisted everything around, rehashing the paranoia of the omen of death. My girlfriend, currently pulling some military duty in Ontario had emailed me the day before I found the bird. She recounted a disturbing dream. I was the star, there were blackbirds in it; a woman we both knew was in it as well and they were concerned about me. Did she tap into some vault of information — somehow knowing or sending the dead bird there as an omen? Many people snarl:why would someone astral project and then dream something as trivial as a dead bird? I don’t know. Why would someone know there is going to be a plane crash but not be able to give details to the control tower about which plane? The staff at any major airport will tell you the same story occurs many times per year. Details are almost always missing and as a result no one can ground all the planes. Often there are a slew of calls just prior to a crash. Details are often vague. “A large plane”:”it’s an American company”. Yet there are too many options and the staff sit helpless.
Does this bird mean something? I don’t know. The details are too vague. I wish I could reach out and see into a cosmic ball and find out what it all means. I’m sure many of us do.
Consider this article a tribute to the life of the little bird that died by my patio:in lieu of another attempted poem.
Laura Seymour first published herself, at age 8. She has since gone on to publish a cookbook for the medical condition of Candida. She is working toward her B.A. (Psyc).