The Day a Bird Flew Into Our Window


The day a bird flew into our window was the Sunday before my brother’s twenty-ninth birthday. It was sunny and the wind blew strong; it seemed like the wind would never stop blowing strong; it had been weeks now. It was my fifth Sunday of the lockdown and we had eggs for breakfast, which we ate in ravenous silence and with a glass of juice. My mother was reading a book when a bird flew into our window. So loud was the collision that it caused her to jump and ask—‘What was that?!’ My father emerged and said that he had heard it from the other room. They both looked around for the cause.

It wasn’t the first time a bird had flown into the window. Summer past, I was a few feet away when a kestrel swooped out of nowhere, headfirst into the glazing. It made a soft thud, even softer from the pinch of its beak striking first and then the perfect feathers in quick succession. For a moment it lay with its wings splayed on the floor and looked up at me with big black eyes. I didn’t move towards it but stared and admired, before, after a second or so, it recovered and took off, invisible against the bright sky. Barely a smudge left behind on the glass, so no-one needed know.

The day a bird flew into our window I was masturbating in the shower. I was waiting for the water to warm up when everything mixed in mid-air. The hot water came and I felt all of my bed-hair flatten under the heat. Afterwards I cut a lot of my beard off. The window was busted; the mirror never cleared; the black-brown-red hairs swum. The way the minty spittle fell and the perfume of the shower gel moistened the room. There was work to be done. When I got downstairs everyone was talking about the bird that flew into our window.



‘It’s dead,’ said my father.
‘I can’t look at it.’

I went and looked at it dead. The poor animal lay in an unnatural position, a tiny blackbird at the beginning of spring. Its feathers were beautiful, even through the glass one could see that, like a zoo or a picture frame. It would have been rude to stare for too long so I turned away and rolled a cigarette. How would I feel should I die and people stare? Maybe the strong wind affected its flight. The skull, neck, spine, tail, all aligned so magnificently as to slice through the air. ‘E—t, go and put it in the bin.’ My brother took a bag from under the sink and followed me outside. He put his hand in the bag to receive the bird into its white sheet. The wind blew so that all of the trees and bushes were fighting with each other. In that kind of wind, you can look up and see birds floating there with wings outstretched, seemingly motionless, like steam in a sauna. The birds were always calling, always singing. Carefully and without moving a muscle I listened to the birdsong, as though I might recognise the species. The way the gusts pushed a howl against the angle of my ear.
The day before, I had gone on a long walk to escape a sour mood. I interrupted two wood doves mating on the wall outside a block of flats. Curious that I might witness some colourful introduction to avian reproduction, I stopped and paid attention, but seeing only intense tufts of pearlescent grey feathers attached between the submitted and the fluttering, I smiled at the pair and went on my way. The fluttering tumbled off the submitted and waved at me, or perhaps waved me away. It was a cold day but when I heard birdsong I hadn’t heard before, I paused in my tracks and looked around, but seeing nothing I continued on my way. What was I expecting – some flock’s exhibition? a rustle of sparrows? They were in the thicket, among the thorns, near where the bright flowers grew. A crow followed me; we walked side-by-side until they took to the roof of a hut and regarded my weary pace and I their flickering white eyelids. The beach was empty. The wind blew the sand up so that one couldn’t see. Grains and gravel stung my cheeks. Tears rolled down my cheeks.

‘It shat itself.’ I don’t know why, but I checked. ‘And I think that’s some of its brain there, too.’ My brother pointed to a small lump of black where its head had been. On the floor next to the window my mother had some little iron birds, garden ornaments, I suppose. The shit and the brains were between the little iron birds. They, of course, would have taken the window clean out, but iron has spent a long time earning its place in the periodic table. The delicacy of the blackbirds bones & feathers had no such luck, and were now crumpled in the bin. By morning they would be picked up from the pavement and driven down the street.
Mark

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