For her birthday, a girl receives a bird that refuses to do anything. She complains. You gave me the wrong one. I have been this bird before, paralysed by something I couldn’t understand — how suffering makes us. How ill-suited human bones are for flight, and why: we are not hollow. We stand six feet tall. We build enormous metal birds to take us into the sky instead, which is ridiculous, and fantastic; but again for some reason allot ourselves only thirty inches of legroom. Take one skill, gain another flaw: the novelty of the unnatural. Demonising magpies. Bush turkeys on trains in the city. Everybody taking everything for granted, including me. I sit. Cross-legged. I think about being a bird. I think about the things that birds might think about. Worms. Seeds. Sex. Migration. And the things birds probably do not think about: engine failure, ex-girlfriends, the necklace you left at your ex-girlfriend’s place. Love is crazy-making. Love-making makes you crazier. Birds are lucky because birds are uncomplicated. They keep a language evasive of paper: carols of country, warbles of warning, ballads for bad birds who won’t do anything. I sing lullabies for the lorikeet laying still in my hands. I fold origami swans out of napkins. I dig a space for the remains by the airport — the worms will get their revenge, although they won’t call it revenge. It does not occur to them that even the earth longs to occupy something other than itself.
Harlie Pysden is a queer Australian conservationist trying to better understand the world around her by writing about it. Her successful attempts can be found on Instagram @playafox.