A journal of narrative writing.

Would it be all right if I described my inner voice as hopeful? In the 1850’s a group of scientists in London began to wonder how long a bird could fly without landing. The reasons for this question are lost to antiquity, taker of mostly everything but not all of everything. They built a small harness which slid over the wings and fastened with a clasp across the breast of the bird, a blue and white swallow known for the distance of its migration, and they knotted one end of a thread to the harness and the other end to the top of the cage. The thread’s length was such that no perch could be reached, and so the bird, when released, became frantic, wings like the fingers of a drowning man. Eventually, it steadied into a circular orbit. Birds have tiny hearts which can beat incredibly fast but they cannot beat forever. The swallow paced itself for days. Lost to antiquity is what the scientists’ thoughts on cruelty are. It occurred to them that a bird trapped in flight might be able to capture some insects for sustenance, to drink rain water. It became the job of one of the scientists to stand outside the cage and flip seeds at the bird, to spray it with a mister. The bird would not eat. Perhaps it sensed it soon would die; perhaps it believed it soon would arrive in the place it was going. Not even antiquity knows what the swallow knew. A few last flaps, then its small body swung in the cage like an ornament touched. The thread was silver. The knot was called a sailor’s knot. Finally, there was the stillness of momentum’s failure. The bird hung from its thread in a line perpendicular to the core of the earth. It was held there by gravity. Think of that, an entire planet, holding in place the corpse of a bird.