Bird Studies Human Studies BirdCynthia Arrieu-King
"Birds don't sing, they explain. Only people sing." --Kenneth Koch Mary Smith sings about how birds can punish us, studies any in the context of diversion or patterns. Birds that count are not really the ones inside humans' heads. Mary Smith, however, is good at imagining horribly uncommon woodpeckers, supposedly extinct. If, in either case, dodo or ivory-billed woodpecker, Mary Smith persists, what happens? At first she may associate being in a city or in the yard of a suburban house with being a common sparrow. She may, in terms of the song in her mind sing to find nuthatch, drawing sparrows out of the ginkgo, cardinals aghast at her vibrato. Maybe she sees all birds as basically the same type of bird, so the dodo who never appears is as good as an absent robin. You, on the other hand, have a set of elements associated with Mary Smith in your head. Yet, are you little and brown? Do you have a red breast? Do worms dangle from your beak? Are you the idea attractor of what is to be a robin? Or are you a dodo trying to pass as normal? Do you gravitate toward birds with social practices that push you away? Do you chirp an explanation of why this branch, why this final refusal to come back even as idea, why you try to fit into patterns only humans are part of? Even clouds in terms of song are not songs but explanations formed long ago, lines of thought that covered every path. Looped around, cumulus bore down on grackle, squall line mapping turkey before that animal was, before Start of Our World. If you want to sing, don't be a robin. If you want to explain the robins you have to admit the patterns in your head about robins are wrong. If you want to join the dodos you have to find one.
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