Birds Of A Feather

By and for Bird-People

Who Holds the Sun in Winter

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[By Khamaseen, another feline/avian person - This was originally posted on Animal Quills.]

I like to experience the weather, but it’s too cold with the mist pressed in against my skin. I feel the goose bumps forming and brace my feathers against the chill. They don’t touch the wind, these ghost feathers, just the memory of a feeling coming up from my bones. Sleet passes through them and settles in my hair, clinging to my face and neck.

Somewhere to the East a hawk calls, and I jerk into a crouch as jays fall into frenzy. Head high, ears perked, eyes wide, tongue flicking waiting for the signal to panic. When it doesn’t come there is no relief, only more wariness. Openness is uncertainty. I move towards the trees. Retreating into their shadows it’s somehow warmer, their naked branches buffering the wind. I rub my cheek against the bark, rough and wet with frost. Moving away I feel the soft pressure of my whiskers brushing a low branch. The breeze picks up, the leaves rustle away, and I smell the air for something, anything. I find nothing but the clean damp emptiness, and move on.

From under the bridge it’s too dark to see the river, but I reach out to it and feel my claws scratch ice. I wait for something to reach back, nothing. The river is sleeping. I retreat and curl up on the bank, wrapping my tail around my tucked body like a blanket. It offers no real chance of warmth, this phantom cloak, but the habit is reassuring. Shivering against the frosted rocks, I fight the urge for stillness. Through the reeds I watch sparrows flitting about on the ice. Muscles twitching to follow every time they peck or dive. I lash my tail away from me and wonder if the hawk is watching too.

I turn towards the road and climb the bank on all fours. My pads sink into the soft soil. I glance back to see the tracks I’ve made. Hand prints behind me. The prints don’t match the feelings. There’s a hollowness in my chest, and suddenly I feel the desire to be running. I take off, brush and rocks blur by, birds scatter to the sky, a rabbit reveals itself to flee, and I am all animal now. Lost in the sensation of movement I feel the sting of air flying by and the rhythmic smacking of my paws. From shore to concrete, I seek the East.

I find the hawk on his favorite telephone pole. I have been watching him for years, but today he is no less brilliant and the air catches in my chest as I gaze up at him. He’s not nearly as startled by my approach as I was by his call, the mere idea of his presence. Perched so precariously on a wire, but with unmoving certainty that he will keep his balance. His feathers appear made of fire to be so red against the grey winter sky. The frozen winds could never take his shine away. He holds the sun inside him.

I walk away from the hawk and feel warmth spread through my wings like summer sunshine. I run all the way home, the heat from my muscles radiating through me like an inner sun.

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I was cleaning out my online spaces when I felt the urge to post something after taking so much away, and so here’s my most recent diary entry. For some context: I hike along this river near my house for two or three hours every day, sometimes with my dog and sometimes without. I am extremely stubborn about making this daily trip despite the weather (I’ve even been caught out in a tornado with hail, so this is a very stupid stubborn) and it’s officially the time of year where I get depressed out of frustration with winter. In some animal way I consider it “my” space and I’m familiar with all of the resident wildlife. I’ve bird-watched that red-tailed hawk for four years now and he just accepts me as a part of the landscape basically. This time, he’s also Ra. Maybe there’s some firebird in there too, but I’m not sure which of us it came from.

[Author: Khamaseen]

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