The Flicker’s Tail

The Flicker’s Tail

What to make of the spider, spinning her web in midair, when a sparrow from nowhere swallows her whole in the blink of an eye.

Am I the spider or the sparrow?

So here’s the thing.

A few weeks ago I ran up Sheridan to Chestnut and crossed over so that I could walk home along the beach at Gilson. I run and I walk and I linger. Along this beach at Gilson. To the east is the expanse of the great lake of Michigan. It might as well be the Atlantic. And to the west are some of the most elegant mansions in the world. Why not? Man or nature? They both are wonders.

And as ever I watch the sky, and the mansions, and the beach and the water. So I’m walking. Taking it all in. I don’t even recall my mood.

What stands out in my memory of this run/walk are the feathers that I left behind. Half buried in the sand, a few yards from the surf are a plume of striking black and yellow feathers. I don’t pick them up. They seem to be too much of a bird.  Left tragically behind.

Two weeks, or ten days pass.

I’m running on the beach at Light House. Two miles south of the beach at Gilson. I take off my shoes. The water is cold. But still. I like to run along the packed sand and the cold water. In the surf I see some feathers. Yellow and black.

And I stop in my tracks. No way. How could that be?  I stop. I wade into three feet of water. Freezing cold water. Because those are the feathers I saw two weeks ago buried in the sand at Gilson.

I wade into the water. There are a handful of people on the beach on this auspicious autumn day. I scoop up the feathers. The very feathers I didn’t scoop up two weeks ago. Two miles up shore. And I sit down on the beach. With my feathers.


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