Saturday, June 4, 2016

My Bennu


There’s a bird I see sometimes when I walk the dog. It looks like a heron—long saffron flamingo legs, white cotton grey bodice, two crested feathers on the back of her head, a long yellow beak. I am not a bird watcher, but the Bennu has always been a part of my life. I have taken photos of her on my phone to prove to myself that she’s there, that I haven’t imagined her. I sometimes look for her outside my window, but I rarely see her from behind the glass; I have to physically go out. Then, there she is, going about her business, hopping from tuft of grass, to branch, to the heart of the Sycamore tree searching for a worm or a small mouse.

With each one of her departures my heart sinks, the separation feeling like hundreds of years, without guarantees of return, without any promises. A frolic, a skip, and off she flies, leaving me behind. Where are you going? Do they need you as much as I do? Don’t leave. Stay. As if I could tame a Bennu, or entice a deity with any of my mundane capacities, food, water, shelter. Nothing I can provide isn’t already in abundance all over the world. I hope, I pray, I beg for her to find the need to return to my insignificant little patch of jade. I am impatient, and the longer I wait, the more my apathy grows. I hate her power over me. Because of her, I am drowning in my own head, and blinding myself to all the beauty around me. At my lowest, my heart feels like it has stopped pumping blood, breathing has become exhausting, and I lay paralyzed in bed incapable of pursuing my banal duties. 

Then, on an insignificant day, with the rising of the sun, she surprisingly reemerges. From the ashes, I carve soothing words that revitalize my soul. I write stories of the Bennu, for the Bennu, so she can stay. She speaks to me. 

I am both the regal ruby gold phoenix and the goliath grey heron. I am sometimes more one than the other. I am the exciting, fiery deity, the rising sun, soaring, my loud cries undeniable. I am transforming air, time and space into floods of life. I am also the small, common two-toned grey heron, perched outside your window, smiling at your confusion, reminding you of the beauty of the drab, the magic of the ordinary, and the importance of being both.

In order to fly forward you must forget about the two-feathered crest on the back of your head.

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