My grandmother adopted a baby.
She had a sunroom filled with plants.
The baby was sometimes a white cat. There were other cats, too. And also birds, un-caged. These were not ordinary birds, but instead had fantastical plumage indicating either a unique native wildness or a specialized exotic cultivation. Red parrot-like animals and hawks with beaks bright like tropical fish or Floridian lipstick. Owls with exaggerated black tufts rising from their herringbone plumage.
I thought my grandmother, being ninety-five years old, might expire sooner than this new baby’s needs.
The white cat was among the other cats and as a group it was difficult to suppress their predatory urges towards these birds. But these were no ordinary birds. They were large hunters and they sat in the plants in the sunroom. If something were out of place, a bit of wind, an errant hair, it could give rise to panic and compulsion. Terror and ecstasy.
One brown striped cat submitted to chase and leapt after the long-legged red animal in the corner, erupting into a dervish whirling: feathers and fur. I tried to usher the birds through the door into the windowless hallway, but being too large for the space, too magnificent, their wings could only be compromised by the walls and the ceiling. Eventually they made it through with the owl struggling the longest, perhaps sustaining the most injury.
I walked back through the calm sunroom and wondered if this collection, these plants and in some part the animals too were the segue to death and in that sense if they were nature.
There was a bathroom in my Aunt and Uncle’s house with dark colored walls and a boldly printed shower curtain. I watched my older cousin apply eyeliner in the mirror. It was so glamourous.
Sometimes colorful spaces are just around a corner, out of reach, but memory preserves the intrigue for years.
These introductions to joyful mystery remain strong.
and young children, who, as with heavy metals and certain other poisons of the body and spirit, capitalism and the like, become more susceptible to theft of the narrative kind. To be unnaturally frozen, and on the internet at that, without their consent.