The Magpie

Driving: Grief a dark object floating somewhere in the car. I speed by a deer lying on its side all puffed in the belly like a fattened hog. I can feel the inner pressure of the thing pushing its top legs upwards at impossible angles. I think, “It’s strange how fast I’m moving and how still it is.” I keep moving.

Now a Magpie. I slow quickly and turn the car. I get out—the car stays running. As I bend and lift, the neck falls like a wilted flower. It’s still warm. Squatting on the pavement I pause for a moment at the stark-beauty—I remove the wings, the tail, the feet and the head. Cars drive by; I pretend not to notice. The dismembered torso sits on the road like a lifeless, feathered potato. I say a few words and carry it to the edge amongst shrubs and bits of trash that wave like prayer flags.

I spread the wings. The abrupt black-then-white contrast of the primary flight feathers is shocking. I look closely at the rounded, dusky-nilotic secondary flight feathers. Rotating them gently from side-to-side they flash an iridescent violet-cobalt- marine...Marvelous! Back in the car, I look out the rear-view and see the blushing cheeks of mountains fading into night. Calm and centered now, breathing slowly, I pull away; the floating grief-object has gone.

This is how dying things keep living.

Joshua Paquette 2016-19