There is a man down the street with a bird. It’s a big bird; big enough to make him stoop to the right, the bird on his shoulder like a pirate. The man is young, twenty-something young with a reputation for silence and busy hands.
When the sun is out the pair go to the lake; through the town where those who do not know them stop and stare; cross the bridge scaly with bricks and ivy; past the graveyard where his parents were buried all those years ago. At the lake, the bird flies. The man watches it find patches of current in the air to glide. Watches as dogs bark and swans snap at its tail feathers. Watches it swoop across the water and kiss its reflection. He smiles then. Stands on the bank and brings his arms close; wraps them around his back until his fingers touch.
In rain, they visit the church. The bird calmed by the candles the man lights. They walk around slowly, up the aisles as the man recites the ten commandments in barely breaths. When alone, they stand at the altar, take in the golds and reds and imagine it is theirs. On mass days, the church smells of incense and they both like that, the smell of old, the smell of prayers. When they leave, the man crosses himself with holy water as the bird dips in its beak.
On snowy days, those days when the sky turns white, they remain inside. At home, they retreat to their corners; the man in the kitchen, bird in the bedroom. The man tears the kitchen apart and shouts out the window for that night. For the patch of black ice that slipped under his father’s tyres and left him alone. The bird. The bird takes to the bed, claws clamped on the headboard it sleeps, searching for old memories; its nest, the sun, sand, blood.