Tuesday, July 04, 2017


A few months ago, while working in the yard, I happened across a bird that had recently died and was being consumed by all the little critters in the dirt that opportunistically seize such meals.  The image of the bird, once able to soar and fly, once so fleeting and difficult to catch, just laying there accessible to everything on the land, left an impression.  This morning, I decided to do a little sketch of the image (since it is too hot to go out and work in the yard today.)
There is just something unsettling about seeing a fallen bird.  It happens daily, yes, but it is sobering to see. Yet, it is also beautiful to see up close! The magnificence of the wings, the little talons and the precision of the beak...it is fascinating.
While sketching this, I was reminded of some personal writing that my father penned before he passed away.  I thought it was profound, and I'll share it below.

                                                               Mark J. Monson

Melvin stalks the sparrows with his Winchester-cock-style bee-bee gun.  I follow right behind him watching his prey hit the ground.  Now it’s your turn he encourages me handing me the gun.

Another flock circles and lands unaware of Melvin and me and the bee-bee gun.  I aim, my heart pounds...the gun discharges.  The leaves flutter and all the birds fly.  I’ve missed.

Melvin is much better at this than I am.  I think it’s because  he’s practiced with his dad.  My father died before he taught me to kill birds.  I wonder if he would have taught me had he lived...    probably  not.  Melvin is lucky I think.

Don’t worry, you’ll hit one next time Melvin assures me.

We continue our hunt.   I carry the gun.  Then I see it...a yellow canary perched on a sun flower.  The yellow image, posed against the blue sky, blazes in my eyes.

Melvin sees it also and whispers Quick or it’ll fly.

 I look at it through the “V” sight of the gun.  It’s beautiful...

Shoot! Melvin insists.  I do.

My ears hear a dull thud and the canary falls back and down.

Melvin is elated and runs toward the sun flowers.  I stand dazed, not moving.  Holding the gun.

My trance is broken as Melvin shouts I can’t find it in this darn grass.

I move toward the sun flowers looking down at the red-splattered, flaxen-colored grass.  Following the trail of blood, I see the canary looking up at me.  It appears confused and frightened.  I wonder what I’ve done.

The bee-bee has punctured the canary’s throat.  Blood and air bubbles ooze from the opening.  The bird labors to breath.  Within moments there is no movement.  The yellow is matted with red and is lifeless

Melvin is patting me on the back, for how long, I don’t know.  When I turn to face him, he’s smiling.  I hand him his gun and walk away.  He calls to me What’s wrong?

I stop and turn to face him.  The experience replays in my mind.  I walk away and he questions Don’t you want the bird?

No,  I hear myself say, still seeing the red splattered yellow, I’ve got to go home now.

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