Trilling chirrups sound from a stone’s throw away, the unmistakable song of starlings. No other bird, save the mockingbird, can make such music. It rings of savage disdain cloaked in beauty. And I listen.
They are near, these birds, a short distance from me through glass and wood and many a substance betwixt inside and outside, the makings of men called walls. Only they separate me from the twittering, hold me hostage with transparent promises made from glass, with hard unsympathetic views of nature, forever distorting the world out there.
And the starlings sing in their unawareness. They know nothing of my presence. To them I am but a spirit caged while they fly free; I am trapped in an environment altered from the one they know, controlled for my comfort yet stealing from me whatever enjoyment the elements bring. But the birds know not of this jail.
Their excitement clamors for attention through walls and windows. I turn in my chair but cannot see them through cold metal blinds half-closed and totally isolating.
I rise. Legs crooked and tired lift my weight, thrusting me into the air as I turn.
“Why flit them so near?” I wonder, “And whence comes such boisterous bellowing?”
More voices join those already on the air. First a few, then more, and finally perhaps a handful at least. I feel their numbers even before my eyes consume their image.
“I must investigate this commotion.” Yet curiosity and progress come at a cost.
Immediately I dance a jig unbecoming such stately moods. My feet stumble clumsily over one cat and another. Only when my upright position hangs in the balance do I trip again with feeble hopes of missing yet a third. Feline eyes glance wearily at me, watch carefully my lumbering.
They do not move though. Relegated to a life with one evolved primate, they comprehend my love and devotion. I would rend my own flesh and die a thousand deaths before I hurt any of them.
This awkward tango carries me from side to side. Feet go this way and that, arms flail in silly gestures, and body rocks and trembles in hurled abandon. I miss all three felines without falling.
My weight bangs heavily against the doors. Only by strength of will do I keep from crashing through the glass. More importantly, I allow my body to limply tumble and lithely bend. I am an acrobat in spirit.
Happily I make little noise for the starlings do not flee. Perhaps they heard nothing of that embarrassing gambol. All the better.
Muscles contract, push and pull, and finally I stand again, my shoulders comfortably above my feet, my stature tall and dignified in blatant denial of what transpired.
Nose to glass I peer between flimsy metal swords. And I see them.
“Do they see me?”
Abreast and numbered six, iridescent plumage glistening in the sun like wet ink, I spy them standing atop wood footrests upon which my arms would rest were I to join them. The fence suits them. Held above ground. Heaved into the air. Would that I could stand like them in that place, in that way.
Sturnus vulgaris they are called. Winged rats. A scourge.
I dare not deny their reputation. Nevertheless my eyes fixed on each of them in turn, my ears attuned to every word passing between them, I likewise dare not deny their beauty, their splendor.
What purpose brings them to my door I do not know. It matters not.
“Sing, starlings, and I shall grant you an audience.”
Happily they oblige me.