Jewel Beth Davis
and Jennifer Fendya

Jennifer Fendya
Inspiration piece

Mystery of the Peregrine Falcon
By Jewel Beth Davis

A dead bird lay in my path as I stepped out onto my wood planked porch. I figured it wasn’t a good omen for my day. How would a wild bird die that way? The entire bird was completely intact. There was no blood at all. No marks of violence on the bird. The bird was well fed and had lovely, soft feathers of a variety of different shades of brown and rust. I’d never seen a bird’s legs and claws that close up. Its legs were toothpick thin, and its claws had long, sharp, threatening nails. I didn’t know its claws would be so other worldly looking, like something you’d see on a monster in a science fiction movie.

I doubt that bird, let’s call him Jackie, was planning to die that day. He or she probably awoke this morning, stretched a little, got rid of the sleep crook in his neck, and flew off in search of worms, which would have been hard to come by because it’s the middle of winter. Worms don’t hang out in frozen ground covered with snow nor in ponds and lakes blanketed with ice. I assume worms sleep all winter. Even if I have that all wrong, worms are not around in the winter. So maybe the bird looked around for seeds from a bird feeder put out by humans. He found some seeds for breakfast and then decided to visit some bird friends in the neighborhood. After socializing and sitting on a telephone wire with a bunch of other birds, he flew around the neighborhood feeling the joy and ease of being able to fly, maybe swerving and dive bombing. That’s what I would do if I could fly. So, the question is: what happened between chowing down on seeds, watching the goings on of the neighborhood, feeling the joy of being airborne, and lying doornail dead on my front porch? The only possibility I can imagine is that the sparrow was poisoned by something she ate. Or she was struck by lightning. But that would probably show up by sizzled feathers. And there’s not a mark on the plump, good-sized falcon. She could have flown into the glass door on the porch. Or perhaps she caught a disease, like bird flu. That’s a real possibility. Or does bird flu give people disease?

The mystery of the dead bird is eating me up inside. Let it go, I tell myself. But I wonder how it ended up on my porch. Why not on the ground in my yard, in my garden, under the many oak and maple trees I have? The more I think about it, the more questions I have. But no, it’s on my porch. So, is it a sign from the universe for me? If it were a sign, what was the potential meaning or meanings? Does this sign mean something for my life? Does it predict something about my own lifespan? I have too much to do before my life ends. Maybe it’s just a message that nature and life are unpredictable. Maybe I just have to accept the bird’s death as a sign that death is unpredictable, and I can’t always get the answer to all the mysteries in life. I gently wrapped a paper towel around Jackie and lay him under a maple tree. I wanted him to go out with dignity and be laid to rest in nature. I didn’t bury him because this is not the kid of bird that gets buried. He was wild, not a pet.

I had a physical episode the other day with strange symptoms: dizziness, nausea, weakness in my legs, a racing heart, and a breakout of sweat. My doctor advised me to go the Emergency room and get a full work up. So, I did. They did myriad blood tests, a urinalysis, a physical exam, an EKG, a chest x-ray, and a CAT scan on my brain. I think they were looking for signs of a stroke. After five and a half hours, every test came back perfectly normal. I was, according to the tests, perfectly normal and healthy. So where did those symptoms come from? It’s a mystery that I’ll never have the answer to, just like the falcon’s death. Perhaps the message of the Jackie’s death and my day of medical testing is that certain mysteries have no answers. Or at least, none that I can find.


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