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On Becoming a Bird

Story by Emily Darrell (Read author interview) December 21, 2009

art by Robinson Accola

Becoming a bird was not what I expected.

The songs are fucking hard to learn, first thing, and there are still so many I don’t even know. Sometimes I just move my beak and pretend.

Finding food is never easy and with such a small stomach you can only digest a little at a time. Overeat: die. Don’t find enough: die. It’s a tough balance.

And then there’s the nest building. Jesus Christ, don’t even get me started on the nest building!

Though really, who becomes a bird for anything but the flying? Just as in a dream, the flying is all there is. How can I explain it? It starts with an aloneness different from all other alonenesses. The feeling is not that of being a puppet, nor a balloon. There are no strings from above jerking you about like a marionette, nor from below, holding you to the earth like a tether.

There is awareness, but no awareness. Movement, but no movement. Sky, but no sky. Each flight is the same as the one that came before, and then different from the one that will follow.

About the Author

Emily Darrell is just back from a year teaching at a university in Bucharest, Romania and is planning her next move.

About the Artist

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Seven of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Seven
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