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Original artwork by Katie M. Zeigler

The Dead Bird

Erik Peters

As kids we loved bird-watching at the lake. Every fluttery movement was full of joy: a delight to behold. But there was neither joy nor delight in the dead bird we found by the side of the road. Suddenly, no one could stomach bird-watching.

“What makes them so beautiful when they’re flying around? Is it their pretty feathers?” asked Hallie.

 But when Marshal tried to pluck a few feathers from the dead bird, we yelled at him to stop.

 “Perhaps it’s the hollow, lifeless eyes that make this one so awful,” said Maddy.

But when Marshal turned the dead bird away from us, it was no better.

“Maybe it’s their fluttery movements that make them such a joy,” suggested Olive.

But when Marshal picked up the dead bird by one wing and shook it back-and-forth, we were all horror-stricken.

“Could it be the movement from within? You know, the muscles underneath the feathers?” I mused.

But when Marshal gave it a jolt from the car battery so that it twisted and writhed, all five of us wretched.

So we gave the dead bird a name, and that helped. Then we dug him a hole and buried him and Marshal made a little wooden cross and we wrote the dead bird’s name on the cross using charcoal from the fire-pit and Maddy and Olive put wildflowers on the grave and we sang a hymn.

Then we went back to bird-watching.