Monday, June 16, 2008

death is a vacancy.

Death never loses its efficacy, I guess unless you are devoid of emotion. It kind of grabs you from behind, always when you’re unprepared; I guess you never can be any other way.

I saw a dead crow on my way to work today. I was still revving from my cheap, early morning caffeinated thrill; and of course, hot to cold is a terrible way to transition. The bird was motionless, lying on its side. It took me about half a minute of examining to understand. It was possibly still alive, but clearly in a moribund state. It was quite possibly dead, though.

This is not the first time I’ve seen a dead animal, or seen “death” for that matter. I saw a dead raccoon once–roadkill–that had elicited a punch in the stomach, vomit-inducing feeling. Then there was my deceased grandfather, whose open casket I couldn’t process as death, but a departure to a new home. Or vacation, a long, nondescript one. Despite all the stories and two or three dead/decaying birds later, this one still hurts. But maybe I never want it to not hurt. Because that would mean that in some ways, I’m dying too.

In the minute following my sighting, a rainbow of emotions flooded me. There was genuine sadness, curiosity (is that a feeling?), concern (is someone going to clean this up?), and more sadness (what the fuck happened?). Birds are endothermic; maybe I should check if it’s still alive? Then I shuddered. My mind went to a dark place and suddenly the wounded leg, the severed beak, and the grotesque deformities sprang out to remind me that death is jarring at any and every degree.

The night of my birthday last year, I was driving up La Cienega around 1 am and saw a man who’d just been hit by a car lying dead on the street–feet bare, face forward. Seeing this bird was no different. It should be different right?

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