Substitute for Love #3
We lived in the middle of a long block of modest colonials and silent dogs. As a kid wearing paper tissues under those dreaded starched collars for school, or with ear glued to a transistor blaring “Baby Love,” hands cutting the outlines of paper heroes, I thought the sun and the moon revolved around our house. Nobody dies in this home; nobody flies away. My mother, who loved Maria Callas and Brigadoon, bought two parakeets because she thought a house is not a nest without birds. I became overly attached to the shy one because he reminded me of myself in classrooms, of being stuck for answers. One day in a fit of rage, my father opened the cage and chased the birds out the window. I ran after them because the world was too big for the two of them, especially the one who didn’t chirp much. I didn’t see the car coming. The world was too big for the three of us. So now, I’m holding the world in my hand. It’s made of glass and it’s really very small after you’ve grown beyond it. I spin it around and around in my palm. Inside, I can see a small boy chasing two birds because they mean life and death to him. They keep running all around the world until they catch up. But the birds will always fly away and the boy is growing too tall and too starry-eyed for a life of glass and pain. So I make a fist and crush this world.