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Monday, December 6, 2010

looking at the sun

Each night at the same time, long after the dogs had all been walked, the people had all gone to sleep, and before the newspaper boys would start tossing their bundles from a moving white van, the old man made his way through down the street. Each night walking the same exact path he had walked his entire life.

In the winter he would walk slowly, feeling the biting of the cold air on his cheek.

In the spring he would walk slowly and smell the blooming trees over his head.

In the fall he would walk slowly hearing every crunching leaf or squishing mud puddle.

But now it was summer.

He stopped at each dried out garden to run his hands through the soil. He was looking for old fruit that had fallen from the vine and dried in the mid day sun so he could collect, one at a time, the seeds that hibernated now waiting for the seasons to turn around again. He would take these seeds and at the beginning of the spring scatter them freely in his yard so that they might have the chance of new life.

The stars above him were glimmering, the new moon was shyly hiding. The old man's pockets nearly empty with only a dozen or so seeds . Suddenly in the utterly still dark a small object struck the old man in the back of the head. He turned around. At first he saw nothing, so he reached down into a deep shadows and felt the small body of a still warm bird. As he lifted it to his face he saw it's feathers were as black as the night. The bird was not moving.

The old man closed his hands around the body of the animal. There was stillness as the the warmth from his hands went to work. The old man stood and waited. The wind blew past. There was no sound. The bird began moving slightly, twitching then struggling to stand. The old man opened his hand.

The bird hopped softly around for a moment in the open palm then jumped in a confused manner to the index finger, and spoke.

“Sir, thank you for warming me, for offering me a safe place to heal. You did not try to study me, or know me. You did not measure my beak or try to count my talons. I have a favor to ask of your kindness in this, my final night.

“All my life I have flow from tree to tree, and in all this time I have felt every day the sun warm my back. Even on days when the clouds were thick I could still feel it's warmth there making everything visible, making me alive. Yesterday, as the sun was high in the sky I decided I must look upon it myself. I flew from the tree I sat in and turned my beak upwards. I could feel the heat bathe me, my face baking in the rays. Finally I forced my eyes open and took in that indescribable disk entirely.

"I tell you it was the most beautiful and most painful thing I had ever experienced. I am happy I did it because I know nothing in life could ever have been as beautiful as the center of the sun. But now I am blind, and in the world as a bird with out my eye sight I will die very soon because I cannot find food and birds must eat.

“My request of you sir, if you have food for me, please give me that gift, so that I can live just one day longer and feel the sun warm my heart one last time before I depart.”

With his free hand the old man reached into his pocket. He retrieved the few seeds he'd collected that night and dropped them into his hand where the bird was perched.

Instantly the little black creature jumped on them, pecking madly in every corner so that he found seeds as often as he missed and they soon were each coated in blood that had sprung from the old man's palm.

When the seeds were gone and the bird had pecked a few more times to be sure, he flew off into the sky. The old man looked up to where the bird had flown and took in the stars emblazoning the heavens. He looked down at his dirty feet, and the shadow that had birthed the curious little animal. He looked forward at where he was headed, he looked back at where he had been. Then he turned, and walked slowly in a new direction.