CU Honors Writing Club: Bird Bones by Ian Smith
CU student Ian Smith is a member of the Honors Writing Club. The Writing Club discusses, writes, and goes on writerly excursions to readings, plays, and other inspirational outings. The Writing Club is full for 2016, and will open to new members in 2017!
Warren Lewis once described his literary group, The Inklings, (of which J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were members) as “neither a club nor a literary society, though it partook of the nature of both. There were no rules, officers, agendas, or formal elections.” Similar in ethos, the Honors writing club, The Inklings: Volume II, sets out to wander through the world of good writing to find something along the way. We are a group of students intent on learning what it means to be a writer. The club’s purpose is to explore the various forms of writing, and while the group’s interests may primarily be fiction, the genres the group explores are broad. As members of writing club, we workshop each other’s works-in-progress, discuss excerpts from our favorite authors and poets, and go on inspirational field trips. These writerly excursions include attending readings by well-known (and not-so-well-known) writers, film screenings and trips to Special Collections at the library.
Snap — shattered stick. Like a crackling yule log. I don’t remember who heard it happen, but it was Kenny who’d done it. Kenny. He’s my cousin from my mom’s sister. The one who wonders most about how death. He is the one that asks how it works. He demands to know where we go when it ends. What does it feel like? He cares which way is most painless. Still, he’s the one that did it. We saw him do it. I think. His eyes turned to wood, his voice a butterfly.
A baby bird fell under his foot. He didn’t know it was there. It was our turn to hide from the seekers in the neighborhood game, he was just trying to hide. When someone heard the crack, the game was over. Kenny said it had died before he had got there. My brother remembers seeing it fall. I didn’t see, but I knew it was dead. I picked up the hatchling. Its eyes were heavy with sleep. Its body gone limp in the commotion. We gathered mementos as our gifts to the departed. Nike shoebox, two copper pennies, and newspaper scrapings would make up its coffin.
Forcing our faces straight we played out a funeral. Kenny announced his sorries. I dug out the plot and lowered the bird. We crafted an ugly marker to locate the grave. I guess Mrs. Becker found our grave a bit shallow. Get the bird out of my garden, she said, and we moved it like she asked. Our backyard would work for the dead baby bird to live out its years. We shoveled dirt on shoveled dirt till the shoebox was hidden and resaid our words to send the baby bird back to heaven. And we all forgot about the baby bird and the grave. Until our dog, a wiry-haired dachshund dug up the box.
A real grave is six feet under, I remember my mom told me once. For the final farewell, we found flowery forest in the alley behind our house. The type of forest made from itchy yellow flowers and prickling green stalks. A forest of dust and pollen and weed killer. And we dug the hole of the baby bird’s final resting place. It was up to our knees. And we took the unearthed coffin and gave it one last fixing up. But while patching it up, our eyes slipped into the box. Accidently. The newspapers were brown and the pennies still copper, only smudged. And the baby bird was gone except for its small pine needle bones. We buried the Nike shoebox, but the baby bird’s bones got stuck in our brains. And I thought about death and what’s after. I thought, what does it feel like, does it feel like bird bones?