So far so good with the Bumblefoot patients! It’s really amazing how fast chickens can heal up. Speckles had a hole a little bigger than a pea in her foot one day and the next it was nearly closed up. Spot and Henrietta are looking great too!
Here’s Miss Spot showing off her very fashionable green bandage. Few more days and then I think they can go without the bandages and hopefully we’ll stay bumblefoot-free!
I haven’t painted enough recently because graphic novel is eating my life, but I sneaked this in! It’s a scene from the creepy af fairy tale Fitcher’s Bird, look it up for Bluebird-style awfulness and sorcerers and weird bird stuff! I think Miyazaki drew inspiration from it when he did his version of Howl’s Moving Castle.
This is also my June drawterry, using the word prompts birdcage, lillypad, and lace!
I was only four when the first bird found its way into my open, tiny hands. Wrens procreate and fill the parks where I live, I happened upon one who was too slow, too tired; without flight feathers but still sleek with covering. We took this bird and kept it for a few months, when autumn came, I carried it into the yard and watched it soar away. I was left feeling as hollow as its bones. I later came to learn that this would be a familiar feeling that followed me all my life.
The birds came in droves after that. Exhausted hummingbirds no bigger than my pinky who I nursed back to life with sugar water, jays that hit our window, and quail who had gone faint from the cold of the harsh Oregon winters here.
Slowly, so subtly that I don’t notice it, the owls started coming.
Outside the windows, asking questions, hunting, making rabbits scream and shriek for mercy, I could hear them haunting the pine borders. Finally, one the size of my two fists pushed together came to me, and I spent the night warming it and waiting till it was strong enough to leave. When it took off from my wrist, silently, and disappeared under the light of a full moon, I felt a cracking. That night Artemis began speaking to me.
There was a vicious fire a few summers later and one morning, when we were finally being able to go home after the flames had cleared away, we watched an owl fly to our door, and fall into a limp winged spectacle of gravitational pull. The owl had enough strength to escape the flames, but not enough to live to see its own survival.
It would be vain and irresponsible to say I saved every bird I found. I once had a little robin, bald and wrinkled and veiny, go cold in my hands, I had to suffocate a broken legged chick, and I’ve watched too many birds gasp and twitch, suffocating to death after breaking their necks on the glass windows. For every bird I saved, two would die.
When they would die I used to cry. I’d sob, inconsolable. But then I started hardening. I became practical. I lived on the hope and promise of the one out of three birds living and leaving my hands, I existed for the one bird that would be fine, because of me.
The owl was the length of my torso with eyes the size of ping pong balls. When we looked at each other I knew he could claw my eyes out, and he knew too. When I picked him and pressed his wings against my chest, against my heart, he felt no more substantial than a wren. That was when I knew I was blessed. Artemis was screaming inside my veins and I felt every life of every bird I’d had in my hands. They were messengers, I was a medium. When that day’s great horned owl took wing and left me, I’d felt stronger than I ever had.
Broken birds are one thing.
Broken people are entirely something else.
I know feathers but your skin is a stranger to me.
This was written for a Common App prompt that no longer exists, which read: Evaluate a significant experience, risk, achievement, ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
Smeared blood, shredded feathers. Clearly, the bird was dead. But wait, the slight fluctuation of its chest, the slow blinking of its shiny black eyes. No, it was alive.
I had been typing an English essay when I heard my cat’s loud meows and the flutter of wings. I had turned slightly at the noise and had found the barely breathing bird in front of me.
The shock came first. Mind racing, heart beating faster, blood draining from my face. I instinctively reached out my hand to hold it, like a long-lost keepsake from my youth. But then I remembered that birds had life, flesh, blood.
Death. Dare I say it out loud? Here, in my own home?
Within seconds, my reflexes kicked in. Get over the shock. Gloves, napkins, towels. Band-aid? How does one heal a bird? I rummaged through the house, keeping a wary eye on my cat. Donning yellow rubber gloves, I tentatively picked up the bird. Never mind the cat’s hissing and protesting scratches, you need to save the bird. You need to ease its pain.
But my mind was blank. I stroked the bird with a paper towel to clear away the blood, see the wound. The wings were crumpled, the feet mangled. A large gash extended close to its jugular rendering its breathing shallow, unsteady. The rising and falling of its small breast slowed. Was the bird dying? No, please, not yet.
Why was this feeling so familiar, so tangible?
Oh. Yes. The long drive, the green hills, the white church, the funeral. The Chinese mass, the resounding amens, the flower arrangements. Me, crying silently, huddled in the corner. The Hsieh family huddled around the casket. Apologies. So many apologies. Finally, the body lowered to rest. The body. Kari Hsieh. Still familiar, still tangible.
Hugging Mrs. Hsieh, I was a ghost, a statue. My brain and my body competed. Emotion wrestled with fact. Kari Hsieh, aged 17, my friend of four years, had died in the Chatsworth Metrolink Crash on Sep. 12, 2008. Kari was dead, I thought. Dead.
But I could still save the bird.
My frantic actions heightened my senses, mobilized my spirit. Cupping the bird, I ran outside, hoping the cool air outdoors would suture every wound, cause the bird to miraculously fly away. Yet there lay the bird in my hands, still gasping, still dying. Bird, human, human, bird. What was the difference? Both were the same. Mortal.
But couldn’t I do something? Hold the bird longer, de-claw the cat? I wanted to go to my bedroom, confine myself to tears, replay my memories, never come out.
The bird’s warmth faded away. Its heartbeat slowed along with its breath. For a long time, I stared thoughtlessly at it, so still in my hands.
Slowly, I dug a small hole in the black earth. As it disappeared under handfuls of dirt, my own heart grew stronger, my own breath more steady.
The wind, the sky, the dampness of the soil on my hands whispered to me, “The bird is dead. Kari has passed. But you are alive.” My breath, my heartbeat, my sweat sighed back, “I am alive. I am alive. I am alive.”
Pink Shoelaces The Chordettes | Carried Away Passion Pit | Tokyo Charmaine | New Soul Yael Naim | The Only Place Best Coast | 1, 2, 3, 4 The Plain White T’s | The Bird And The Worm Owl City | Married Life Micheal Giacchino | Georgia On My Mind Ray Charles | Oh, It Is Love Hellogoodbye | Shape Of My Heart Noah And The Whale | Yellow Light Of Monsters And Men | Over The Rainbow The Blanks | World Spins Madly On The Weepies
i made a character playlist for my favorite pink lady, click the image to hear it!