Metamorphosis: Who Is the Maker? An Artist's Statement

by Lisa Segal

published by Bombshelter Press

published by Writing in a Woman's Voice

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

© 2018 Lisa R. Segal