Monday, June 30, 2008

It is hard to describe: when the window
is down and the sun comes up, following
a pelican into a shed filled with orange
tractors and dirt bones, being watched
by men as the wings close in, the tiny
mites that cover the body. In eyes
flicker fins. I'm looking at you. Glass
trigger in the face, waiting for me
to open my mouth. If we were braver
we'd be scared of you. As it is, we isn't.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

sooty shearwater

I am now convinced that the bird that arrived at the door was a sooty shearwater. SB county birders are reporting swarms of them off the coast. Last Monday, three days before my bird arrived, there were reportedly in numbers exceeding 10K between Goleta pier and campus point. Our house is just a short distance away, so now I think a straggler juvenile must have crash landed at our house.

Sooty shearwaters can fly for a long time.

The flights of sooty shearwaters documented in this new study represent the longest animal migration routes ever recorded using electronic tracking technology: around 65,000 kilometers (39,000 miles). Taking advantage of prevailing winds along different parts of the migration route, the birds trace giant figure eights over the Pacific Basin.

A group of shearwaters is called an "improbability."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Things have been weird. On Thursday morning a strange bird came and knocked on the door. For real. I saw it on the patio through a gap in the curtains. It's body was sooty and dark. At first I thought it was a crow. Then I saw the black webbed feet and the sharp curved beak. I thought then that it was a cormorant -- a juvenile. Often the juveniles look dark gray. Adult cormorants have glossy and dark olive colored feathers. This bird wasn't glossy, and seemed somewhat disheveled. I wondered what it was doing on our patio, which is behind a natural wall of plants and under an eave and about a mile from the beach. It tapped at the glass door. Birds, even when they flock to our feeder, never get so close. I watched it for a few moments. At last, it settled on the welcome mat and faced the glass.

I opened the door. At that point, the bird hopped clumsily away. It didn't fly. It was weak. I knew to rescue it. I brought it to the bird center. J studied the bird and murmured, "I don't know what that is." She went to fetch her book. When she returned, she identified it as a parasitic jaeger . "An evil bird" she said. All I saw was a weak and frightened bird. The book described the bird as "the pirate of the seas" whose shadow "cleaves across the tundra, striking fear in the hearts of all who glimpse it." It is described as a swift and agile flier.

Later that day, I googled bird omens. As someone interested in animals and divination, I was especially intent on learning what it means when a bird knocks on your door. What I learned from the internet made me worried. Over and over again, accounts that the arrival of a bird means death. Death death death. I thought of how it felt when I held the bird -- how light and fragile it was. How wild. It wasn't death that it made me think of, but vulnerability. Everything alive is vulnerable.

Many birds are clepto-parasites. Many animals. Including people.

I think the description of the bird as "evil" is unfair. Perhaps it is a bird that cannot bear to kill, but knows that it must consume flesh to survive. Nonetheless, I am not convinced the bird is a skua. I think it is perhaps a type of shearwater. In my memory, it looks a lot like this:

Even though the bird was weak, it managed to tear several shallow cuts on the skin of my hands. They are in a neat little row, and they remind me more of claw marks than beak marks.

Yesterday, my adventures with birds continued at haskell's beach where there were reports of weak and injured cormorants. On our way down to the beach, we crossed paths with a falconer. He was driving a little golf cart and three birds -- an owl and two falcons -- perched on bars where there is usually a back seat. The nearby Baccarra resort uses owls and falcons to chase seagulls away from the expensive suites. The falcons wore little masks that covered their eyes. The owl was gorgeous and bored. "He's happy as long as he gets fat," the falconer explained. He wore long leather gloves.

Down the rocky beach, under the old pier formerly used by the veneco oil corporation, six young cormorants were huddled against the rusting barriers. Offshore, there are a few large platforms that serve as cormorant colonies. Because of the waves and the strange angles of the structure, it seemed as though it might be impossible to corral the birds. K and I attempted to corner one of the birds, and as I lunged forward to block it from entering the surf, my head hit one of the metal bars extending from the platform. I was suddenly flat on my back, in the sand and kelp. I was seeing stars. I brought my self up, the earth undulating beneath me. I was up in time to see K get the cormorant into a box.

Tomorrow I will go and see the bird who knocked on my door. Perhaps s/he will be ready to be released. I know that there is more to this story, but this is all I can tell for now.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Mercury in Retrograde

Hit me hard. My computer crashed, and so the next issue of WOMB is being rebuilt from scratch. So, I'm hoping to have things perking by the solstice.

Without my computer, I had plenty of time to make new poetry jewelry for the Hex Presse shop. Check it out.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

often the dreams involve difficulties in communication. this is a common dream theme. like trying to decipher what someone is saying under water, only instead of shouting or straining to hear, I am measuring my words...reigning in my desire to speak, treading lightly, scanning the faces in the room considering what I *might* say, clenching my fists, my jaw. In the dream last night I was in a house near my childhood home. It felt as though it was located in an old strip mall that had been converted into a tiny beach village-- narrow streets and wooden clapboard fences and dirt alleys. The house was crowded with a variety of people, living and dead, familiar and strange, old and young. There are many details that remain familiar -- the need to do laundry, the lack of curtains in the showers, the absence of hallways (simply room flowing into room), the general sense of almost poverty and dirt. But the detail that remains most vivid involves my hair. In the dream my hair, as it is in life, was long and thick. One of my friends or roommates -- it seemed we all lived together in all the houses, sometimes switching houses and rooms-- was a hairdresser. In the house I was in, there were many young girls between the ages of 5 and 12. They seemed to be without parents, and I had a sense of wanting to take care of them. Although they all had long dark hair (like mine), they needed more hair. I'm not sure why. Visibly, I couldn't see why they needed hair, but I felt and knew that they did. The hairdresser friend suggested that I donate some of my hair. I agreed. But somehow, before we could discuss how much or from what part of my head the hair would come, he had reached over and sheared the left side of my head. I wasn't completely bald, but my head was very lopsided. I wanted to complain; the hair on the right side of my head is much thicker than it is on the left and had we discussed it, I would have asked him to take hair from the right side. I was angry at his presumption and arrogance. But I didn't want to complain because one of the little girls had already sewn my hair into hers. I didn't want her to feel my surprise or anger at the man with the scissors because I didn't want her to worry that I didn't want her to have my hair. Instead of registering my disappointment with my friend, I said very loudly "I'm so glad that she has my hair." I said it very loudly several times. Everyone looked over at me and smiled. Later, when everyone was busy again, I went into the dusty alley and cried. It wasn't even a feeling of loss or sadness about the hair, but rather a feeling of terrible loneliness from which it seemed there would never be any escape.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Looking forward to Fall

Two of my very favorite people have books coming out this fall: Randa Jarrar and Andrew Porter. I can't wait!
is this real?