(In celebration of your recent announcement, I am reposting this open letter to a bird that I found dead on the sidewalk outside of your apartment)
Some time over the last year, I came across a creature in my study of Urdu poetry called the Huma bird. It was supposed to be a mysterious, illusive creature, one who spent the entirety of its life in flight without ever needing to rest and whose path through the sky was invisible. For this reason, catching a Huma was utterly unthinkable even in a world of fable, but in those rare instances in which the gods could take pause from their insecurity and displays of pointless anger long enough to reveal their mercy, one might hope to feel the shadow of such a bird pass over you in your moment of need. I imagine that in a world so desperate and confusing as this one, that there were people who spent the better part of their lives looking for that shadow. They trudged back and forth from jobs on which they depended as much as they hated, relying on the farms or the flocks of their fathers and the dissatisfactory marriage prospects that had been arranged for them to fill out their seemingly endless days. They had stupidly complicated desires for stupidly complicated people with whom they could never be. They shared their loneliness with the rising and setting sun and lifted their heads to anything moving on the ground that might be the sign of something great from above. But with pathetic predictability, the skies were always empty, or full of more common, disappointing birds. That’s the way these things are, Squawky. Having been the more disappointing bird, I am sure you would have known that yourself, from many angles.
I recall your flight tests. In a lot of ways, I blame myself for all of this, though I told you time and time again that you were approaching this the wrong way, though my friends tell me always that it isn’t my fault, even when you collapsed so often on the hoods of their cars. I shouldn’t have said anything about that stupid bird. I shouldn’t have fucking said anything. The problem is, Squawky, that I understand your frustration. I knew it from the second that I found you on that sidewalk that you were a creature of great frustration. It must be unbearable at times to be a bird with such beautiful feathers and physical restraints. I do not think I could handle it. When there are all of these people in the world looking for a machine with beautiful plumage who never needs to rest, who can fly endlessly and endlessly, to be a bird whose wings tire must be an insult. I wish you would have stopped yourself. I wish you would have thought this through. And maybe given some time, you would have come to your senses, but emotion is a powerful and merciless god to have standing over you. I know. I know. You would be happier to destroy yourself than to settle.
I’m sorry, Squawky. I know that there will be others, but even as I pat the dirt closed over your little grave, here beside your feline and canine brethren, I feel as if I am closing the door on a cage that will hang empty in my chest for the remainder of my young adulthood, the newspaper always fresh in anticipation of the day that you decide to fold your wings here again, a day that I know will never ever come.