Codes and Marks

for M. P.

Listen to this. On Market Street, a black bird swoops and dives at the heads of the lunchtime crowd. The blackbird knows only that its chick is lost, and its biological need to feed the chick is no longer satisfied by a wildly open beak. The chick, lost in a forest of legs and feet troding cement, flutters helplessly. The human concern of some tries to reunite the bird and the chick. A man scoops the chick from the pavement and places it on a tree branch. For a moment, the chick rests. The man reassured, smiles and walks away. But soon, the chick flutters and falls once again to the pavement. The bird screeches. Harsh, shrill, piercing. Bird and chick. On the horizon, the sky blackens with the wings of a thousand birds. Their existence is impregnable and forbidden.

Some codes cannot be broken; they remain forever forbidden. We must always be outside looking in, seeing only the shadows or darkness. I envy those who have access to the inner knowledge of life. At times, it creates bitterness and agony in my soul. At other times, it creates and nurtures the strongest of faith. It is not true that the daily current of existence flows evenly and without secrets. I have a responsibility to break the code. So, I curse the waste of your death. Before accepting it, I must touch the bones that your flesh abandoned. I must mark the spot where you lie.

--Leila Rae (1996)