Saturday, May 11, 2013

Just Its Nature

I used to stand amazed and watch the redbirds fight.  They would flash and flutter like scraps of burning rags through a sky unbelievable blue, swirling, soaring, plummeting.   On the ground they were a blur of feathers, stabbing for each other's eyes.  I have seen grown men stop what they were doing, stop pulling corn or lift their head out from under the hood of a broken-down car, to watch it.  Once, when I was little, I watched one of the birds attack its own reflection in the side mirror of a truck.  It hurled its body again and again against that unyielding image, until it pecked a crack in the glass, until the whole mirror was smeared with blood.  It was as if the bird hated what it saw there, and discovered too late that all it was seeing was itself.  I asked an old man who worked for my uncle Ed, a snuff-dipping man named Charlie Bivens, why he reckoned that bird did that.  He told me it was just its nature.

~Rick Bragg, All Over but the Shoutin'.