Bird

 

This is a story about a bird.

His name is Jonatan, pronounced ‘yo-nah-tàn’, not ‘djohn-nuh-fun’, for that is the Dutch pronounciation of the name, and we are, currently, on a gravelly, rural road somewhere in Drenthe, one of the more pastoral, emptier provinces of The Netherlands. ‘His’, of course, refers to not the bird but the name of a man the bird has been following around for a while now, a time during which the bird has become familiar with certain words, including the man’s name, and also with human intonation, which is concludedly nowhere as melodic and singsongy as that of birds.

The bird will remain unnamed, as it does not understand the language which it is referred by, and will not respond to being called ‘bird’, for humans are wont to call an animal by the name of their entire species, which foregoes the idea of the individual and assumes it is a human-only thing, to feel as a self. This bird feels as whole and as individual as an alive thing can possibly feel. Paradoxically, the bird will remain undescribed; we see this story, this imagined and animated still-life, through the eyes of the bird, but not the bird itself, who is a friendly sort, but also a bit slow when it comes to the world, and cannot understand what a mirror is or that the simulacrum inside of such an object, in its reflective surface or that of a little pond is, in fact, itself.

Conversely, the man will be described, but with the terms of erudition of a bird, as it is after all a bird that describes, in the same vein how the bird can identify and understand what berries are and know the distinctions between ‘nutritious’ and ‘poisonous’ berries, but has little idea of the taxonomical groupings let alone the organismal kingdom one might belong to. The man has brown fluff on his head – the bird knows it is his head because he has two eyes situated in that area, two useful things the bird has, too, and although this conclusion is presumptuous at best, we shall allow it.

The man, who seems to be dripping something, also wears a plumage or fur of red – a costume? The bird has witnessed him tearing sections of it into calculated pieces and makeshift it into something else to wrap around his body, and because the bird does not take off its feathers while it bathes, it knows the costume does not belong to him, as it is not a part of him, yet birds do not have the same understanding of property as humans do, so the question of ownership is ambiguous. Those are the important things about the man, thinks the bird. It can see all sorts of minutiae and paraphernalia and miscellany, such as the man’s continuous dripping, that I could devote the bird’s cognition, my efforting, and your precious time to, but these are incomprehensible, and not to mention superfluous distractions.

What caused this bird, who normally belongs to and remains a closeknit part of a flock of its kin, as most birds are, except for the crow or the rook among others, who elect to spend their life alone or, quite romantically, in pairs, to follow a man whose actions, intentions, language (for the most part), and form it cannot possibly understand? Even were they to communicate, and, in the confines of a narrative, any two living things might be invented for the specific purpose of an interspecial chat, it would be a very one-sided conversation, for the man’s sociability extends only so far as to repeat the word “Jonatan” over, and over. Perhaps it is precisely this repetition which caused the bird to take interest in the man, because why, in the unpredictable tumult and tempest of universes, and the plural was picked over the singular with a distinct meaning, would anything choose to repeat itself?

But then, why did the bird’s friends, his lovers, his family, not take similar interest, why is it the sole actor in all of this? That is a hypothetical easily answered, and before I do, I beg for you to forgive my arrogance, but I only wished to have this bird and this bird alone to star in something special. The man, as previously stated, this story is not about. He serves no purpose outside of this literal bird’s eye-view.

What the bird had not quite grasped is that Jonatan is not the name of the man, but in fact someone else’s name, and we cannot fault it for its ignorance, for that is what it is, a bird!, unfamiliar with human anatomy and emotional states, but we must still give a tiny applause as it knew it was a name at all. As for the dripping, well done on spotting that, that is a compliment to the bird as well as to you who wondered about it: it is the slow emptying of the man’s ichors, blood we might call it, like an opened sluicegate unleashing the torrential drive of water to be somewhere else all the time, caused by a deep stab wound. Being in Drenthe, do you remember?, there is hardly any phone reception – but the bird does not know what this means, but we do, and it means that the man cannot call for help, and all he can do, all he is doing, which led the bird to him, maybe he thinks it is an angel, he must be quite delusional by now, is repeat the name of his lover, which is, as you guessed, Jonatan.

But this is not about the man. All along, this has been a story about a bird.

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