Metamorphosis: Who Is the Maker? An Artist's Statement
by Lisa Segal
published by Bombshelter Press
THE TRAPPED BIRD
I once watched a bird in the gutter across the street from me
trying to fly away. A car was parking on top of it. Its wings
opened-closed, opened-closed, thrusting towards the sky,
opening-closing, its back end under the wheel of a car parallel
parking on top of it. At the Stage Deli, seated at a sidewalk table,
I watched the car parking. Back and forth, back and forth.
Parking. Back and forth, on top of the bird.
This happened long ago, though not so long ago,
that I was a child, or even a young woman.
I was already quite a person, or at least,
trying to be one. My heart hurts.
Because I saw it? In spite of all that New Yorkness?
The honking, rolling, clinking, blowing, walking, scraping,
laughing, climbing, blinking, dropping, talking, pouring,
crying, crowding, riding, pressing? Because I saw those
white wings opened, extending? The look of disbelief?
The undauntedness of spirit as it tried again?
The inevitability of outcome? Because, unmoved,
I finished my slice of cheesecake? Or, is it that as the bird
turned to me, I looked away? It’s that I looked away.
My heart hurts. I look away. This is it, the truth of me.
I look away. When my heart hurts I look away.
Sadness under the wheel of a car, I look away.
From the pain of others. I look away when I don’t know
what to do. I look away. Like that New York day when
I looked away, when I decided to act like it wouldn’t matter.
For a moment, before turning my head, before returning
to the pickles and packets of sugar on my tabletop,
before requesting another cup of coffee, before continuing
my conversation of no consequence, before I got myself
back to the safety of non-feeling, it was the bird and me,
New York vanishing into an overblown, bleached-out silence,
both of us in the gutter, alive, struggling not to give up,
trying to rise, wanting to fly. How I wish I hadn’t turned away,
that I had forgotten about my cheesecake, that I had allowed
the bird to take refuge inside of me. Instead, I fell into it.
I’m still there, in that gutter. Trapped. Run over.
I wish I hadn’t shut myself down, that I hadn’t turned away.
That day, I was the high place, the harbor.
It was looking for me. But I averted my eyes.
I averted myself, like I do. Like I do when I don’t know
what to do. Like I do, when I don’t know what to do.
My heart feels like a gloved fist pounding raw meat.
Beats like that bird still trying to fly.
I am caught in the heart of a trapped bird.
© 2014 Lisa Segal