The Next Story

All morning long they kept coming back, the jays five of them, blue-grey, purple-banded, strident, disruptive. They screamed with their whole bodies from the branches of the pine, tipped forward, heads toward earth, and swept across the lawn into the oleanders, dipping low as they flew over the half-skull and beak, the blood-end of the one wing lying intact, over the fluff of feathers scattered and drifting occasionally, easily as dandelion—

all that the cat had left.

Back and forth, past one another, pausing as if listening, then sharply cutting the morning again into shard upon shard of frantic and crested descent, jagged slivers of raucous outrage, they kept at it, crying singly, together, alternately, as if on cue, discordant anthem. The pattern of their inconsolable fear could be seen against the flat spring sky as identical to the pattern made by that unmendable shatter of disjointed rubbish on the lawn, all morning long.

Mothers, fathers, our kind, tell me again that death doesn't matter. Tell me it's just a limitation of vision, a fold of landscape, a deep flax-and-poppy-filled gully hidden on the hill, a pleat in our perception, a somersault of existence, natural, even beneficent, even a gift, the only key to the red-lacquered door will be recalled & sung, while our faces in the mirrors of innumerable bathrooms will no longer loom up to obsess us.

But sorrow, sorrow will be unchanged.

So that we may recognize each other.

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