sunroom with treeBirds

Years ago
I went to the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art
And found a strange exhibit
By artist Annette Messager:
Dead birds
Laying on a board
There must’ve been a hundred there
Each wrapped in its own unique,
Hand-knitted sweater
The artist chose
Mostly blues, pinks, yellows, corals & crèmes
Some had stripes,
Others were sleeved
For those with outstretched wings.

My first instinct was to turn
And look away
I’m not sure why.
I think I felt that the birds’ lifeless bodies,
No matter how small
Or seemingly insignificant,
Deserved more
Some sort of right to privacy
In their death.
I felt by being on display in such a way
They were not being properly respected.
It felt gratuitous.
Exhibitionistic.
Voyeuristic.

But then something gripped me,
In a shining moment of clarity
I felt the artist’s pure intentions
Noble and replete
As if I had knitted the tiny sweaters myself
And lovingly wrapped each,
As tucking in my own children
For a cozy, long sleep.

Turning back,
I made a point
To view every single bird.

And in agreement with Annette,
With a message sent in wingless flight
And a heart full of love
In silence, but with profound volume
I said:
You are
Beautiful and unique.
And I will remember you.

gjh.
Birds landing and lifting off a snowy fence in New York City, New York 20130115

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