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Thursday, October 27, 2005

The parable of the lost parakeet.

Two posters started showing up all over the neighborhood last weekend. The first, which featured a color photo and nothing in the way of design, said:

* LOST BIRD *
Parakeet / Budgerigar -family pet

Please call if you see her and let me know where she is. If she lands on you take her inside and/or call: 555 555 5555
Lost near Central Sq., 10/21, but could fly anywhere. Bright yellow and green with dark markings. Loves millet, small birdseed. Eats bird seed, bird pellets, (rice, cereal, beans).
Sometimes comes to claps "pretty birdie" or "Jingles", and says, "Pretty birdie" when in quiet mood. Not cold hardy.
Thank you. M—

My heart was breaking for this boy even as I stood there laughing at the sweetness and childishness of it. And then, three hours later, as Mrs P and I walked toward Harvard Square, another poster that looked almost like an indie rock band promo:

MISSING:
ELLIE THE YELLOW PARAKEET

She's yellow with a green patch on her back, but she looks greenish all over when she gets dirty.

She is very tame and sweet. She might sit on your shoulder and make a smooch sound because she wants a kiss.

LAST SEEN 10/3 BETWEEN INMAN AND PROSPECT STREETS.

REWARD
FOR HER RETURN OR
INFORMATION LEADING TO HER RETURN

Hand-written at the bottom: "Reportedly seen in this area. Please call me if you have any info."

With so much grief in the world, it was interesting to come across these articulate expressions of what I imagine is the loss of a 9- or 10-year-old child, a loss that I suppose is only keenly felt by the child and, indirectly, by parents. I imagined what the parents are thinking — The bird is dead, but how can I tell my child not to hope? — and the conversations that must be taking place every day in those homes — Why hasn't anyone called?

When Mrs P leads the Children's Chapel at her Episcopal church each week, the kids are always praying for ailing, missing, or dead pets. They're learning about the complexity of love, of course, and preparing for losses that will be much more shattering. The amount of grief in the world is unfathomable — something I felt when confronted by one tiny, almost dismissable loss and remembering the much larger human losses behind each morning's headlines — but I imagine that these children, postering the neighborhood with prayers for the return of their birds, are also learning from the example of their parents' love and willful hope.

Sometimes, the only thing you can do is poster the neighborhood.

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 27 October 2005 at 8:19 AM

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4 comments:

Jess:

October 27, 2005 05:49 PM | Permalink for this comment

It's so hard to lose a pet - our kitty, Hobbes, wandered off for 16 days in Milwaukee a few years ago, and was found 40 miles and two counties away, thanks to the microchip injected by the Humane Society when we first adopted him. The kids were ecstatic when the call came from the shelter way out of town that he'd been found. If only he could talk, he'd have lots of great stories to tell!

But anyway. We have parakeets in the wild here in Hyde Park. They're fun to watch, and hear their squawks overhead. I wrote up a little something about them over at my place.

Dudley Jones:

October 27, 2005 07:55 PM | Permalink for this comment

Animals may not be as smart as some of us, but many of them have just as much sociality as humans. I predict that fifty years from now, when we really figure out how consciousness works, we will decide to treat animals in a completely different and much better way.

Deborah:

October 27, 2005 10:29 PM | Permalink for this comment

Beautiful post. Thank you.

Elizabeth:

October 28, 2005 10:33 AM | Permalink for this comment

One of my favorite posts ever. Grace and Leo, our kitties, sit next to me and are glad, I am sure to be safe and sound inside. I remember when our little Trotsky (not my choice of names!) ran away and we postered all over the place. It was when I was living at home one summer in college, and Trotsky was my dad's "baby." Even though we never found him we like to think he was adopted by a little old lady who just couldn't bear to let such a sweet, cuddly cat go, so she keeps him safe inside all the time, getting fat on all you can eat tuna and chicken treats. Perhaps the parrots have been adopted by equally sweet little-old-lady parrot lovers that just can't let them go...



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