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Birds At War – One Crow Sorrow

 I don’t know how it started – I heard it, but didn’t see it.


There was a harsh thud against the window. If you are used to it (I have heard it enough) you know that a bird has struck the glass. Generally  hard enough to stun or kill. Break their necks. When he was a child, my father saw a bird hit a window so hard that it smashed the glass and ended inside the room. It was dead.


So I got out of my chair and pulled the blinds open and took a look. By the sidewalk was a blackbird, dead enough looking for me to assume it was dead. As it proved to be. But, also on the scene were  five or six blackbirds, calling and fluttering and diving and raising right hell .I thought it an unusual commotion even for the death of one of their own,
And then I looked up into the fir tree on the corner of the property. A third of the way from the ground was a crow. A very cautious crow. A crow twisting its head every which way it could.


Now, I did not see what made the blackbird crash into the window. It is reasonable to assume the crow was somehow the cause. Blackbirds chase crows, and dive bomb them, and worry them, and harry them, and do so with the help of other blackbirds. Crows like to raid their nests and eat their eggs or their young. A crow is a big bird compared to a blackbird. Strength in numbers.


So, I suspect the dead blackbird made an in flight miscalculation while chasing the crow. It got too close. Then, as it tried to get out of range, it crashed into the window. I was quick to look out the window, and the crow was already in the tree. It may have lunged at the blackbird, or spread its wings. or aimed its beak. The blackbird moved too quickly in its attempt to get out of the way.


But the crow was not out of the woods yet. It wasn’t going to take to the sky and attempt an escape. A half dozen blackbirds could inflict injury on the crow. It was going to stay put.


I had the unusual experience of being nearly level with the crow. I watched it. I watched its head. I watched its eyes. Birds have active, cautious, suspicious eyes. Their eyes are large in relation to their heads. Their eyes are jammed into their eye sockets, so they are generally  unmovable. Consequently, when they want to move their eyes, they have to move their head.


So, this crow was moving its head a lot.

Five or six blackbirds kept hovering and diving. Even two blue jays joined in the ruckus, screeching in the background at all the commotion.

This went on about five minutes, then the other birds departed. A couple of minutes later, the crow lifted from the branch. It had murder in its eyes.

On the Other Side of the Door

kafka-metamorphosis

The first claw was so faint upon the door he barely raised an eye from the page. It could have been the wind – it sounded almost like the wind. Wind at other times and in other places might blow such a sound – but not this night. As his thoughts returned to what lay before him, the tiny scrabble, hesitant at floor level, moved slightly to the right, aligning itself more closely to the doorknob.

The noise skittered up the wood, almost a metallic sound. His head swivelled toward the door, and the first thought he had was for the paint. Then he could sense, by the sound alone, that the movement was groping in the dark, that it was unsure of where it was. He closed the book on his lap, still keeping his place with a finger. His eyes remained fixed on the door, and he thought he saw the light of his lamp glint off something through the keyhole.

The doorknob twitched, a slight movement counter clockwise, and then a brief turn clockwise. He let the book slide down the side of his chair as he put his hand into a pocket. He felt the key between his fingers, and held it tightly. There was more fumbling with the knob, muffled sounds as if a grip was hard to get. The knob turned once more, and then the pressure on the outside was released. He could hear some shuffling against the wood, and then saw, through the keyhole, light reflecting off a muddy iris.

He stared back through the keyhole, only to see the eye blink and move slowly away. He started to rise from his chair, but was stopped by a thump near the floor, as if a clumsy foot had bumped the wood by mistake. He realized that all the sounds which he heard seemed fuddled and uncoordinated. The doorknob was once again twisted, but the motion seemed to lack the ability to grasp.

He was wondering whether to turn out the lamp or not, when a hesitant, hollow knock came on the door.

[Image] https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/kafka-metamorphosis.jpg

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