After seeing Pedro Almodovar’s Volver starring Penelope Cruz, without warning, my mood felt lighter than it’s been in a while. The afternoon was brighter than I had remembered it from previous sunnier-than-gold afternoons. Chigago’s Transit Authority album blared from my car stereo and matched the windy and cool South Florida afternoon.
Feeling so good, I thought why not go to Friendly Seas, the restaurant I used to live in years ago & enjoy a tall glass of cool orange blossom tea, as well as one of their garden burgers or Buffalo burgers. I might even meet another friendly solitary diner who was looking for company if only while she or he was in the outdoor patio. I decided at the last minute not to turn left, but to turn right and keep on going home. It was almost as if someone else was doing the driving. I thought it odd that I no longer could decide whether to turn right or to turn left. Why complain? Perhaps it was better that some unseen force was turning the wheel for me, or at least, with me. I had to feed Callisto, my golden retriever, and perhaps after I had taken care of that detail I’d still be fired up and roaring to go out again into the elegance of a bright afternoon.
I almost made it safely out of my black car when I looked up at the sky & saw hundreds of black birds flying east & southeast in what seemed like chaotic patterns of flight or gliding pleasure. The sky was still light but overcast with smoky cloud wisps taped onto purer white cottony cloud formations. Willingly trapped in my slightly warm car I couldn’t stop gazing at the sight of those relentless flocks of black birds trapped in oceans of air. Surely it would only be a minute or two then the birds would all fly away & I’d be able to resume my walk upstairs to feed Callisto. The blackbirds continued to swirl in ever-increasing numbers. How long could I stay in my car? What if neighbors wondered what I was doing in my car so long? Who was I waiting for? Why didn’t I take off or go upstairs? I decided not to be concerned with what others might think of me looking toward the western skies at what other people, no doubt, thought was an empty sky. Perhaps it was empty to them, but to me it was full of possibilities.
I thought of Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. In that poem it was winter in the Northeast. In my blackbird experience it was an early summer-like winter in South Florida. Had the blackbirds kept on flying all afternoon long, I probably would have stayed in my black car looking at the endless arrival and departure of hundreds of sky birds in black. It wasn’t only the blackbirds that entranced me. It was a sense of well-being and of wonder that coincided with the blackbird phenomenon. I almost thought that perhaps this enhanced sense of being, of contentment, of simple acceptance of things-as-they-were and not things-as-they-should-be was how my life would be from this moment on.
I thought that it would be nice to have someone by my side in the car to point out the blackbird reverie, but then I remembered that Wallace Stevens’ wife could not relate to the nature-drenched poetry that others read and analyzed in introduction-to-poetry classes in the 70s. She just didn’t get why anyone would want to contemplate for such lengths of time, realities that were best noted, then ignored. If no one else was there to join me in the silent symphony of blackbird flight, then at least God was taking note of the contemplative moment with me. I didn’t dwell too much on how it was there because of Him, but I’m glad He turned my head upward ever so gently and coincidentally in order not to miss the invasion of winged things in the slowly darkening skies.
This had to have a coda, this endless symphony of flight & I looked in amazement as yet another movement started quietly then grew louder & more enjoyable as the next wave of blackbirds continued heading east and southeast. I had to look higher and more to the southwest in order to see a fading flock of blackbirds continue the silent symphony. I thought I’d never leave my car till night erased the silent music from the blackbird clouds.
The birds decided to finally end their 20-minute chance-like symphonic dance and I gathered my cd and excess time and headed upstairs to feed Callisto & to await another pre-Sabbath Friday night at home.