I met Carl on the east side of the city, in displaced wetlands like a carefully calculated structure of mismatched art. It was a Saturday. All good adventures begin on a Saturday, don’t they?
I’m not sure what I was looking for when I met him. A piece of beauty? A moment of distraction? A reason to to voice a belief in magic. Or just another lonely sentient being looking for a friend.
Did I find him? Or did he find me? With his scathing black eyes, he saw me as a threat and proceeded to sound the alarm from his beak. I smiled gently, and paused- giving him the time to process that I am not like the others- I am not here to hurt him. He kept his distance. I was okay with this.
As my black slip on shoes became more and more wet from freshly poured rain + marsh, I observed the agitation gripping at my throat. Mosquitoes pulling my attention from this scenic beauty was enough for me to want to leave.
But each time, as I would towards the direction of home, he would steal my attention again. His noir feathers shimmering as he glided through the sky, reminding that the day was too young to go back home. I tiptoed farther into the murky wild, catching glimpses of the others- some swimming across the water with the grace of a ballerina, and some milking their natural ability to disappear into sight.
But it was Carl who stole the show. His dark exterior, painted with a stripe of candy cane red and white. A small town punk just wanting a moment of attention. I get that. Doesn’t everyone want to feel seen and heard?
I wondered what would be his answer to the questions that have been marinating in my mind. “Where do we go when we die?” “Is there life after here?” “Will I see them again?” “Is he free from pain?” “Is he free?” I wonder what a birds view would be on the tales of the afterlife.
I felt the pull, it was time to go.
I thanked Carl for his beauty, and said farewell.
He went his way, I went my way.
His way, a hell of a lot more graceful than mine.