Friday, May 6, 2011


Catahoula Levee Road, September 2005

A red bird came flying at full speed across the levee, and by the time I realized that he was headed for my car it was too late for me to swerve. Clock. His skull collided with my windshield. I tried to convince myself that I’d just grazed him, that bruised and a little confused he’d continued to his destination, but when I looked in the rearview mirror I saw a red ball of feathers fall from the sky and land in the tall grass by the side of the road.

I turned the car around and returned to the curve in the road where the accident occurred. In my mind I replayed the trajectory of my car as I came around the bend, tracing the angle of impact and the direction of the bird’s reflection. By my calculations the dead red bird should have been right where I was standing, but after combing through knee-high weeds for fifteen minutes I called off the search-and-rescue.

Then it dawned on me: a vulture must have swooped down and eaten him. When I looked to the sky to see if any were circling, perched on a power line, a red bird looked back at me.