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Bird heart & The mother photo

Bird heart

I was hiking the canyons alone when a mountain lion appeared on the path in front of me. Needless to say I was surprised. I had never seen a mountain lion in the wild before, so you could say I was virgin to the entire experience. The lion stood there on its four legs looking at me. I forgot my life then. I yelled Fuck You, but the lion didn’t move or even blink. We speak different languages: what means much to us means nothing to a lion. So I picked up a pebble that was on the trail and hurled it at the animal. The stone was the size of a bird heart. Why I thought about bird hearts then, who knows. The rock flew through the air and fell to the ground a few feet to the right of the lion, clattering against other stones. This meant something to the animal. It flinched as though struck across the mouth then retreated. Whether it left the way it came or by some other passage I do not know. When I think back now, the most striking part of the encounter was how the mountain lion looked at me. It was how sometimes, when bad things happen, I imagine God looks at the world. There are other animals who look us in our eyes, but none like the mountain lion. That night when I returned home I drank tea with milk. I was out of honey, and this was a shame because I craved a certain sweetness. Of the lion I can’t say. She prowled through the dusk and made love under the moon and decided our fates, that night and into eternity, for all I know.


The mother

She had just had surgery and was on crutches. Everything had abandoned her. Even the pigeons on her windowsill, who for no discernable reason had packed their belongings and flown coop while she was under the knife, leaving behind only a few speckles of birdshit. Her children were of no help. She called them up and asked them to come by. She lived alone after all, in that old one-bedroom by the highway, and though they agreed her situation was sad they spared only a few rushed moments to visit her between the mysterious business of their young lives. She told the daughter who lived closest that the drugs she was on could cause fatal blood clots which could congeal overnight; would she sleep over, in case the mother were to die in her sleep? Her daughter answered by saying that a blood clot seemed pretty unlikely. And besides, how would she be of any help if the mother had a stroke in her sleep? But the mother was not alright, everything had abandoned her. The tendons in her knees had bid her goodbye, along with her youth. Her marriage had long left and her ring sold for far less than it had cost her. Overnight, liquor mysteriously fled the bottles under her sink. One thing was she had pleasant dreams. The vivid kind, like when you wake and don’t believe your life. She dreamt of running long distances, and of her children as infants, their velvet scalps and milk-wet mouths, beautiful bubbles of spit. In her sleep the mother felt her breasts swell again as they once did: heavy as melons, sweet and smelling of grass. Things went this way for a while and then she could walk again, without crutches. Her life remembered itself. She felt much better after that.