Amanda Whitener and Donna Gagnon

Amanda Whitener
Girl with Birds
Inspiration piece

An Examination of Amanda Whitener’s
“Girl with Birds” in Words

by Donna Gagnon

Examination #1

The sky was full of crows. Normally, my mother could have dispatched of them rapidly by dropping the hoe and, with a strong wave of her right arm, they would have flown elsewhere. But I dipped my head slightly, opened my normally closed mouth and sank my teeth into her ankle.

The crows were intrigued by my mother’s screams. Their calling intensified. I looked up and watched them barrel roll, twisting towards the sounds of my angry, beautiful mother.

Helénē, you have drawn blood.

It was her due, of course. I was only five years old but I knew, somehow, that karma had tapped me on the head, demanding that Leda needed to learn about the birds.

The thing is, no one knows from which part of the egg any of the children in our house were hatched. Is Zeus my father? Did Tyndareus’ seed sown give rise to the twins, Castor and Pollux? Which finger poked the soil to bring about the brilliance of my beloved sister Phoebe?

All of us roll on moist grass, grappling with the anger of bipolar demons, unaware of beginnings, merely eager for satisfaction. We’re just kids, poking sticks into each others’ eyes, never thinking about damage.

One crow landed on my mother’s left shoulder. It stared darkly down into my small face, silently warning that my childish actions could result in war.

I laughed.

Examination #2 (a Fib)

slept and Swan,
blew fire until she laid an egg
when hatched,
threw Helen
in all her beauty
spinning through the Trojan Cycle

still speak
of ancient
wonders, singing notes
that are centuries old but they
of the words

foolishly, we smile,
enjoying the tremulous song



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  1. Posted September 4, 2010 at 10:01 pm | #

    I have just one word to say to both artist and writer: Wow!

  2. Posted September 4, 2010 at 11:40 pm | #

    Thanks, Helen. 🙂

    Amanda’s picture immediately had me thinking about women and birds … we have SUCH a complicated relationship, don’t we?