The eagles are kites without strings

When I drop the dead crow in the compost bin it folds like a puppet with no hand. It feels auspicious, dead birds, and I’m glad I’m not getting on a plane today, laying low.

We enter the roundabout swiftly, that don’t-F-with-me way you do in roundabouts when you pretend you don’t see anyone.

And I am on the trail with the dog again thinking about the other loners I’ve known, the men who go funny as they age, or revert more to themselves, the funny men they are. How they take on a black hole quality where the sucking gets stronger, the closer you get.

The guy in Germany near my mom’s, French, who keeps the unwanted flowers from his true love, some 20 years ago, gathering dust right there by the TV, the rabbit ear antennae, still drawing a signal on him, some reminder he won’t let go. And though there is fire and clouds in his eyes, there’s a soul there too, an injured dog’s eyes.

I meet the same guy coming down off the trail and he stops me, wants my input on the word Nigger: is baiting me but I won’t back down, I’m a writer I say and he asks what is it you write then, Writer? and I say memoir, which quiets him.

He has stories too, hundreds of them, and his eyes sharpen on mine, they flicker like he’s trying to see inside me, pull me in.

He says back then you see, kids could do whatever they wanted. He was in the subway in New York city just playing around, watching this man’s brown hands moving behind a window, making change, and the man gestured for him to come, to stand inside the booth before rush hour so he doesn’t get run over, and so each day he’d go back to be with the man until one time, the man gave him an envelope to give to his parents and the envelope was a written invitation for him and his parents to join the black man’s family for dinner in the black part of town called Bronx or something which I said wonderful and he said it’s not wonderful, my parents weren’t racists like that we just went and had dinner, no big deal. There’s nothing wrong with the word Nigger despite my politically correct response, he says, it’s just a word.

I ask him if he writes his stories down and he says he doesn’t, he can’t think like that — he had polio as a kid and couldn’t write properly with that side of his body, they made fun of him when he tried to write on the chalkboard, called him a dunderhead.

And there’s a part of your brain that is the real you, the part of your brain that keeps the stories of your life. And how much is that part of your brain really you when you don’t have anyone who will listen to it, what happens then?

There’s a kind of inwardness that becomes toxic over time. You keep looking inside expecting something more.

Categories: death

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

15 replies

  1. and it’s really important to get it out, makes all the difference.


  2. Another question: what makes a person open up like that, with his stories and opinions, to s stranger? And should there be more of that, or less?


    • Yeah, I like that Ross. This guy lived in a trailer by himself, was 75, getting himself tested at a clinic for dementia, no money, uses whatever money he has to ski, two knee replacements, likely no family – but a history. And I think he saw his history, with him, fading. I find it interesting — and he kept going on with me because I was listening, whereas he said others turn their backs because he has different views. I didn’t like a lot of what he said but I liked the way he said it, and his passion. Real people.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Your dead critter post is better than my dead critter post. 🙂


  4. Great piece. I think the more inward you let yourself go, the more anything goes. You’re calling all the shots.

    A double-edged sword, I guess…


    • Thank you Kevin – that means a lot to me, your comment. The inward thing is having odd results for me, but feels like progress. Your point is well taken, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. – Bill


  5. Two things: The connection between the dead bird and your flight…love it.
    I have noticed since growing a beard strangers are more likely to talk to me. Is there some secret comforting power in a beard? You seem to run into some odd people who open up to you: the guy on the bench calling China, this guy…or maybe you are clean shaven and your picture is deceptive.


    • Yeah, maybe it’s the Jesus-factor, the beard. Or the perceived-sage. That’s funny! I do have a beard and I’m thinking about letting it go such that I can use a hair brush on it. But it’s hard to let the lawn get overgrown like that, so we’ll see. Glad you liked the dead bird arrangements Jon, thank you. – Bill


  6. You conjure circumstance so very well. It’s like finding oneself inside a soap bubble – only it lasts until one stops reading the post, and even then the after-feeling of it remains as one gets on with more mundane things. It’s a disturbing sensation but rather – well – like a soap bubble – magic – even one with dead birds in it 🙂


    • That is beautiful, Tish. Thank you. I feel I’ve been caught inside my own bubble this week, pawing my way at it: this ‘life is behind glass’ feeling, very odd. I have a good artist friend visiting from Portland now; I think we’ll work through it together out on the trail here, with some clouds and enchanting birdsong. One day I’ll need to commission you as my agent or something: you elevate my writing with how you talk about it, it’s beautiful! Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The idea of talking to a stranger is beautiful. Sometimes it’s good to talk without understanding. Just blabber a part of your soul to someone: a proof that you’ve existed, that you have a history. Your work brings colours to what I read. Honestly. Beautiful to read over and again !


    • Hi Mallika – I apologize I’ve been offline a few days, but wanted to say thanks for your note here. “…good to talk without understanding.” That seems to be my theme! Proof that you’ve existed, yes, that’s a lot of what’s on my head these days. I’m picking my way to the end of a first draft of my memoir since I left a job of about 20 years, and wondered at that very thing a lot, the extent to which I’ve existed. So I’m glad you touched on that and thought those things, reading my post – thank you. And it’s lovely, to say my posts bring colour to what you read, means a lot. Very grateful. I saw a post of yours titled ‘Careless Whisper’ and so now you’ve put that song in my head. I don’t know whether to thank or berate you for that. I’ll choose the former. Best, – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

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