Sunday, March 16, 2014

we ate the birds

Eating the Birds
by Margaret Atwood

We ate the birds.  We ate them.  We wanted their songs to flow up through our throats and burst out of our mouths, and so we ate them.  We wanted their feathers to bud from our flesh.  We wanted their wings, we wanted to fly as they did, soar freely among the treetops and the clouds, and so we ate them.  We speared them, we clubbed them, we tangled their feet in glue, we netted them, we spitted them, we threw them onto hot coals, and all for love, because we loved them.  We wanted to be one with them.  We wanted to hatch out of clean, smooth, beautiful eggs, as they did, back when we were young and agile and innocent of cause and effect, we did not want the mess of being born, and so we crammed the birds into our gullets, feathers and all, but it was no use, we couldn't sing, not effortlessly as they do, we can't fly, not without smoke and metal, and as for the eggs we don't stand a chance.  We're mired in gravity, we're earthbound.  We're ankle-deep in blood, and all because we ate the birds, we ate them long ago, when we still had the power to say no.

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The first time I read this was when I was sitting in an airport waiting for my plane to begin boarding.  It was in some magazine left behind, perhaps accidentally, by someone.  Maybe it was fate, if that is a thing.  I'm not sure.  Anyway, this writing (I'm not sure what to call it... drabble?  Short story?) struck me.  I ripped it out of the magazine to take with me onto the plane.  It consumed my brain for days.  I wanted to know what she was speaking about.  It's beautiful and tragic and I don't think it is something that can be undone until it is too late.

Hope you enjoyed it.

by david scheirer

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