this morning, i cracked my eyes to the unmistakeable busy and ecstatic chatter of a barn swallow outside my door. the swallows are the best: always a welcoming of spring, dancing about the sky...i'm honored when they choose my house for a nesting ground. the past few days, a couple had been swirling around in the recently re-roofed back shed. i was eager for them to choose a spot, choose me i thought, as they circled and swooped, locked feet and fell to the grass in a mating ritual. mi casa es su casa! i thought, my head towards the heavens, dreaming of the future swallow babies raised in my backyard..
to my chagrin, when i went outside to work on my mural today, i found one of those swallows dead in the mud. maybe it was hit by a car, maybe run over while it was picking mud for it's nest, maybe it smashed into a window. i don't know. but it was dead, dead, dead, and it's partner was on the line, looking down, chirping away at me and her dead lover. i'm so sorry i said. i picked it up, brought it in, and painted it's portrait, swatting flies away all the while. and later, i had a funeral. i buried it between the two blueberry bushes, singing: one bright morning when this life is over, i'll fly away, while it's partner solemnly sat on the line, singing along, looking down. she kept coming back, that swallow did, as if in disbelief, thinking where's my mate, why won't he meet me here...all the while singing a lonely song. ah, the cruelty of nature.