I moved to a place where the loudest thing was the waves against the bulkhead, and reveled in the silence. And then I brought in birds, fuzzy and cheeping, tiny and unobtrusive, forgetting everything grows if it lives.
It isn’t quiet here anymore. Outraged cackling is scraping past the window screens and rasping on my nerves. Crows and seagulls put in for the chorus and the waves shake the house but I don’t hear a splash. Five months of patient watching, parental amusement as my birds lost their gawky angles and got fat and sleek on the feed tipped into the coop I built for them; five months of cheering on their new, throaty calls, knowing it meant the eggs would arrive soon. And now the eggs have started and the consolation of them, smooth and warm and impossibly clean in my hand, begins to balance the loss of my soundtrack of waves on the shore.
I crouch beside the wire and speak softly to them, watch their cherry-red combs bob and their eyes bright, watching me. I croon and offer mash, the kind they like best, just wet enough to stick to their beaks when they dip into the treat. They stop their shrieking long enough to fill their bellies and then begin again, stalking into the empty nest boxes where the offending egg has rolled away and been gathered up. I wonder if they’re looking for the evidence, these ladies new to the role they was born to, hunting for the source of the pain so they can punch a beak into it and get revenge.
But I built the nests with just such an image in my mind and the egg she wants to vent against is sitting sideways in my egg carton, too small to fill in the hollow meant for it, leaning against the side as if it’s tired from its journey. I can’t bring myself to break the shell and eat it yet, make it turn from miracle to mundane. Not yet. Fourteen birds stalk the coop, waiting for their turn on the nests and I know the cartons in the fridge will soon be only things to fill, and eggs only a nighttime job after my daytime routines are done. But I’m not there yet, and neither are my birds. It’s still a tearing wonder, this object that appears like magic and somehow is food for body and mind.
Kristen MacKenzie lives on Vashon Island in a quiet cabin where the shelves are filled with herbs for medicine-making, the floor is open for dancing, and the table faces the ocean, waiting for a writer to pick up the pen. Her work has appeared in Brevity, Rawboned, GALA, Extract(s) Daily Dose of Lit, Maudlin House, Blank Fiction, Cease, Cows; Crack the Spine, Eckleburg, Referential, Bluestockings, NAILED, Knee-Jerk, and Wilderness House and is included monthly in Diversity Rules. Pieces are forthcoming in Minerva Rising, MadHat Annual, Mondegreen, Prick of the Spindle and Crab Fat. Her short story, “Cold Comfort,” placed in Honorable Mention in The Women’s National Book Association’s annual writing contest.
Her current work is available at http://maudlinhouse.net/gallery-summer/ and http://www.nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/response-wild/.