From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjon
A medium-sized fellow â€¦ Beady brown eyes set close to his beak within pale surrounds â€¦ The beak itself quite long, thick and powerful, with a slight downward curve at the end, dark in colour but lighter at the top â€¦ No neck to speak of; a spry, stocky figure with short, tapering legs, a barrel chest and a big belly â€¦ Head a dark grizzled brown, with a ruff extending from nape to mid-crown â€¦ Clad in a grey-brown coat of narrow cut, with a faint purple sheen in the twilight; bright stockings, a speckled undershirt â€¦ Importunate with his own kind, garrulous with others â€¦ So might one describe the purple sandpiper and so men describe me â€¦ I can think of many things worse than being likened to you, my feathered Jeremiah, for we have both crawled from the hand of the same craftsman, been carved with the same knife: you quickened to life on the fourth day, I on the sixth â€¦ But what if the order had been reversed? If I had entered the stage with those who soar beneath the firmament while you had been appointed lord of the Earth? Would a bird then be sitting here on a rock, thoughtfully watching the insensate man scurrying along the waterâ€™s edge, querulous with fear that when the sea recedes from the land it might never return? â€¦ Man and bird, man with a birdâ€™s heart, bird with a manâ€™s brain, bird with a manâ€™s heart, man with a bird brain â€¦ We are alike in most things â€¦ And why should we not be? Lately I held your skua-bitten brother in my hand and probed his corpse with my fingers â€¦ Under the breast feathers I felt first sternum, then ribs, then the soft parts that contain kidneys and bowels â€¦
|May 30, 2020
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