Since then, I’d grown accustomed to hearing her sing to him in the early morning. Jazz standards, hymns from the church we grew up in, top forty mainstays – my sister’s repertoire knew no bounds. The bird responded frequently. Though off key, he did his best to keep up with her vocal runs. I wish we’d listened to him at night when we all went to bed. If we did, we’d understand the real reason why he was losing all his feathers.
This morning, when I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water, I saw Bird with one of his feathers between his beak. There were a few others on his cage’s floor. If I’d come earlier, I would’ve heard the incessant gnawing of his self-mutilation or the sound his beak made as he slammed it repetitively on one of the bars. He wasn’t shedding nor was he particularly lonely. He was stripping.
I don’t understand this, my father said one morning. He was tending to his latest project: an herb garden and though he stuck to the internet how-to he’d printed out, he could not get the sprouts to live past a few days. My mother, ever supportive, suggested that maybe it was the weather. Perhaps November’s too chilly to be growing arugula.
Rubbish, he dismissed. The man at the seedling bank said it was the perfect season for arugula. I wondered how he could care so much for something so frail. I could not find any compassion for those green little things but they kept my father busy so I couldn’t complain.
I’m thinking about all of this as I sit outside our house at three in the morning. I have a cigarette in one hand and a cup of ash and water in the other. I puff, flick twice into the cup and think about my father’s rosemary, his Thai basil and a few more that I couldn’t name. I think about the care he takes, nipping the bad ones, treasuring the good. My big toe traces the outline of the chalk fence he drew to keep the pests away. And when I finished my cigarette and thoughts of his babies, I carefully poured the contents of my cup into each pot.
Are you leaving because you’re in love with me? he asked. My mind knew this game too well. It was time to override the control of my heart. I was starting to lose it. I was acting funny, saying things I wasn’t sure I meant, spiraling into an abyss of empty promises and failed expectations. I pleaded my case and lost. I convinced myself I gave it a fair shake and it was time to move on. It was time to say goodbye.
No, I said, my voice thin and frail. I’m leaving because you’re breaking my heart.
From out of nowhere, a voice whispers in my ear. Honey, you’re breaking your own heart.
97% of scientific experts agree that the climate changes, the crazy weather, the spontaneous tsunamis and consequent droughts are all very likely caused by man-made activity. We like to destroy our own, don’t we? After all, what is life without conflict?
♫: Jet | Look What You've Done (2003)