Thursday, July 22, 2010

Icarus Wasn't Alone

I get into trouble in my house for hooking the throw rugs Sigrid has as transition bridges between rooms with the toe of my shoes as I ramble and shamble from one room to the other. We have wall to wall carpeting, in much the same way as we had it everywhere we lived in Germany and I suspect the smaller rugs are just another touch of the home we abandoned as we've realized where we live now will always be here and never home.

There's no reason for me to hook those rugs. I know where they are and she's right, all I have to do is pick up my feet. Of course, I have yet to ever concede either of those points in the almost thirty-three years (this October) that we are married. Admissions to anonymous strangers on line in the vastness of the ether? Si. To the woman who allows me to share her life? Not so much. I'm a creature of habit-I've always done such and such in so and so a manner and sometimes something has changed and the result is different. Don't blame me-blame the result for not being constant. And mind your feet on the rugs.

I thought about this yesterday morning when, with my back to both windows in my office (if I set the desk up so I could see out the window, that would be my new full-time job: coast watcher), I heard a smack, something bouncing off glass (there's a tone and if you've ever heard it, you know what I mean) a noise NOT like that of anything bouncing off glass and then nothing at all. By the time I turned around, all I could see was a streak, actually more of a smudge, on the pane.

My office is five stories up-I like to joke 'up where the air is thin and the decisions reflect that' though I'm not so crazy as to utter that witticism whenever the people in charge are around (Mom raised crazy children, but not stupid ones. Okay, not ALL stupid ones). I opened the bottom part of the window (it opens out and up), and peered down. There was a black lump on the sidewalk five flights below.

I went downstairs to confirm what I suspected and didn't feel better for being right, though I was. A crow, a HUGE crow, had somehow, rammed itself head first into my office window instead of landing (perhaps) on the roof three meters over the frame and had killed itself (or perhaps stunned itself and the fall, most especially the landing, had killed it) and was now a mass of broken bones and black feathers strewn across the sidewalk, just enough to slow people down coming in or out of the main doors, but not enough to cause them to stop and reflect on, or care about, what might have happened.

There are crows, very large wingspan crows, on the roof. They share it somewhat uneasily with the seagulls who, centuries ago, followed the fishing boats back from their journeys in the Atlantic up the Thames River and who now live far from the ocean their DNA can barely remember. You can see them walking across some of the employee parking lots, finding things in the flatbeds of the muscle trucks so many people drive to work these days. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a seagull with a potato chip bag on its head, such was its need and greed, finally freed when others of the same feather flocked together not so much to help him but to steal whatever chips might still be in the bag and by so doing, finally pulling it from his head.

The crow who had landed on top of my building (the sign should go up in front one day next week; drop me a line and I'll send you a digital picture of it) had done so I have no idea how many times or for how long. But something changed yesterday at the last moment. The humdrum of the routine numbed the creature and the rut of habit became its grave. And for just a moment, despite the heat and the humidity, I shivered, thinking of all the times I've gone to 'auto pilot' mode in everyday situations without ever being found out and how sometimes NOT flying too close to the sun can be just as fatal as never having flown at all.
-bill kenny

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