Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On the Wing

                The wind rustled the prairie grass that grew along the edges of the highway exit ramp. Harry stared out his driver’s side window as the long grass flittered in the wind. It had grown fast due to the recent heavy rains. A bird flew up from somewhere in the long prairie grass and up over the long line of cars in front of Harry. The bird landed on the roof of a white van and paused. Harry thought it was interesting that the bird had left the obvious natural safety of the tall grass to perch on the roof of a van that was waiting to make a left turn off the highway. It seemed dangerous to Harry. The bird was small, like a sparrow, but the feathers seemed much too black, too dark to actually be a sparrow. There was a little blue tuft of feathers under the bird’s beak. Harry had no idea what this bird could be. He didn’t know much about birds. He’d lived in the city his entire life and bird identification wasn’t exactly a popular class back in his college days. The bird sat relatively still on the roof of the white van, occasionally turning his head back and forth to scan for predators.

                Harry sighed and looked at the cars around him. He looked at the other drivers to see if they had also seen the bird fly onto the roof of the white van. Harry couldn’t tell if anyone else had noticed. They were all so distant. There was emptiness to the people behind the glass windshields. They didn’t look real to Harry. They looked like glossy images plastered on the glass itself. They didn’t move much. Or were moving too much as they spoke into the air. They were talking to hand free devices in their cars Harry was sure, but it didn’t make them look any less crazy to him.  

                The light changed to green and the van began to pull forward. The bird on the roof easily flew up and off into the morning sky.  Harry started his car forward in line with the other turning vehicles to the next stop light.  He wondered where that bird was going, where it was from, and why it had decided to show itself to him. Harry found the randomness in nature so strange. There was no pattern but there was, there was a seeming randomness to it all but it was all part of a larger system; a system that occasionally showed its glory in beaming sunsets, purple summer dusky skies, rosy fingered mornings and the majesty of itself. He wondered if anyone else had seen the bird or if it was something nature decided to show only to him.  

                Harry didn’t feel special though. He felt like a lucky witness. He felt that underneath the beauty of the bird, there was something tragic. He felt that while he was charmed to have seen that peculiar bird just at that moment, it was too fleeting, for him and the bird. It was only another moment in a long string of moments to be forgotten in the business of another day.

                A car honked somewhere behind Harry. The light had turned green and traffic was once again underway. Harry accelerated with the flow of the river of other cars. He changed the radio station. He played with the air vents. He remembered that he wanted to adjust his passenger side mirror at some point and then quickly forgot as the car in front of him came to a hard stop at another red light.  Harry looked out his driver’s side window and nothing seemed amazing.

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