A Nameless Bird
by Tyrel Kessinger
After my wife leaves for work, I round up my two daughters and we head to the backyard, an old raggedy quilt in hand. For a July morning in Kentucky it’s, quite surprisingly, a very pleasant one. Far too nice to not be taking advantage. My youngest daughter occupies the quilt with me under the shade of the one tree I can name, our Japanese Maple. It is perhaps the least offensive tree I’ve ever had the experience of knowing. I hope I will remember it when I am old. I watch as my daughter does her best impression of a cow, trying to eat grass and leaves and other tasty backyard debris. My other daughter freewheels about the yard, a three-year-old whirling dervish of mischief. I watch as she plows already dirty fingernails through fresh mud pits that she informs me are actually dinosaur fossil dig sites. Parasaurolophus to be exact. Oh, excuuuse me I tell her though I know sarcasm is still a syntax she has yet to grasp. The next heartbeat she’s harassing the dogs and though I have relentlessly asked her to stop, she disobeys my commands as if it were her well-paying job. Although, in fairness, my wife has long said the same of me. Around us nature chatters and clicks. A breeze oceans lightly through the oak trees, maples, whatever the hell they are. Somewhere overhead a bird cloys, punctuating the brilliance of an early spring day executed picture-perfectly. I think: I wish I knew things like the names of birds by their singing voice. Also, how to fix an engine block or remodel a kitchen or, while we’re on the subject, the precise scientific nomenclature of those damn trees. I then consider the bird. What does it know? None of these things, I’m sure, nor my name. And still–and yet!–he is. After removing a considerably sized chunk of crab grass from my youngest daughter’s hungry paws, I notice the other one has gone quiet. Strange, how as a parent you pine for silence yet fear the consequences of it. But then I see her, across the yard; squatting, rocking on her heels in front of our oldest dog. I know his breath is a hot swamp of malodor but she seems unfazed. I ask her what she’s doing, more out of parental habit than real curiosity. The answer comes with a child’s sigh; one I never would have guessed at, not in an infinite amount of lifetimes. Nothing, she informs me stoically. Just waiting around for the dog to get old and die. Well. Hell, I think. What a way to start a day. And me without a response worth a damn. Or time enough to counter with something more hopeful. But that bird–whatever kind it may be–his tongue is loose with wisdom. His whistles sound like proverbs. Or nonsense. Either of which seems a better answer than any foolishness I might utter.
Tyrel Kessinger lives and writes in Louisville, Ky. He enjoys and often write about comic books, obscure NWOBHM bands, guitars and anything else that prevents the onset of true adulthood. He has been published in over 20 literary journals and authors several columns for various publications.