Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Bird Must Die

This morning a small raptor flew into the sweet gum in front of my deck, the one visible from my office window. The coloration and size led me, at first, to think it was a large dove, but even though it was partially obscured by branches with fledgling leaves, revealed that it was a small hawk of some kind, with an inert animal hanging below the branch grasped by its talons.

Raptors have been appearing with some kind of freshness or urgency in my world of late. This, of course, may be entirely subjective; I may only be noticing them with more attention.

My friend Amber has told me that the hawk is an important totem for her and that they have shown themselves to her in unusual circumstances, as though serving as tutelary figures watching over her.

While the usual birds flying about in front of my place are crows and seasonal doves or LBJs (“little brown jobs”)—when unemployed I have spent many daylight hours at the computer with a view out the window—there have this year been lots of turkey vultures hovering in the area and sometimes flying towards and directly over my unit. I usually refer to turkey vultures by the Mexican Spanish term (presumably from the Aztec) “zopilote.” It has a nice ring to it.

That large a bird flying by at close range does get one’s attention. I even composed my own silly song in the shower about it. The verses are already forgotten, but not the chorus.

Zopilote, Zopilote,
I’m still alive as you can plainly see.
Zopilote, Zopilote,
Please don’t try to take a bite of me.

Variant: reprise last line with…
Please don’t try to make your lunch of,
Please don’t try to feed your clan with me.

Amber’s comment on all this is that condors and their cousins are powerful birds that portend death and renewal, the picking clean of our carrion bones so we are freed of encumbrance—ready for resurrection, so to speak. Their appearance to me could thus symbolize a purifying process that will prepare me for whatever is coming next.

As I left for work this morning, I saw by the many small white feathers scattered on the ground that the hawk’s breakfast was a small bird. For the sake of the hawk, the bird had to die. For the sake of what is to come to be in me, the bird must die.

I wonder what unsuspecting bird within me is going to be hawk’s breakfast?

The BB