Locked Heart

Lockedheart copy final

Tom had a bird on his balcony. The bird had a wife. Both birds he assumed had children in the birdhouse. He thought this because the male of the pair kept attacking the reflection of itself in the square mirrors Tom had placed under the balcony railing.

The female bird concerned for the welfare of her mate kept trying to keep it from pecking. But, it had been two days of the woodpecker sound and it was waking Tom.

Tom would pound on the window. He would wave his hands and eventually the bird would take off. But, it would always come back in minutes and hang from the mirror edges. It would peck at its picture. Tom figured the bird lacked the capacity to see that this was itself.

As Tom got older he too would stare back at the reflection of himself and say: “Who is that? (Good thing I am not married and have children.)”

The bird continued to hit the mirror. Eight days later, Tom saw a red liquid, perhaps berry juice, perhaps blood at 7:15 in the morning. He sprayed vinegar on the mirrors thinking it would deter the bird.

The paper Tom had attached a week ago had been pecked off and one of the pieces littered the patio of the apartment two floors down.

Despite the vinegar, the bird pecked. It sounded like it was tired.

The bird’s wife seemed to be on hand as usual chirping with a frenzied beauty.

It was quiet as the wind chimes clanged and tinkled ever so slightly. It made a sound likened to the birds’ chirping and yet it was less even.

Tom asked, “When would the bird understand that he cannot kill the bird reflected unless the bird itself has died?”

Then one faint peck was heard and the wife begged the bird with such beautiful consolation. But, the bird hit the mirror for a while. Its bashing was less forceful, less close in terms of timing as the bashing before it. Maybe its concussions were taking effect. And then there was silence as it must have moved on. Why was the female bird intelligent, and the male so willing to protect her, where she was clearly not in danger? Was he a ‘man’ bashing his head till he could think no more: Dizzy, damaged, and purposeless?

“I have a woman like this in my mind when I am facing my own shadow in the mirror,” Tom said, “Except she neither encourages nor discourages me. She is absent. She was gone long ago. She was not as loving as the bird. She recognized my affections as never-ending, claustrophobic, and permanent.”

“It was so many years ago,” Tom said, “yet there is the constant reminder.

“She affects all my other relationships because she is so beautiful. She is the key that fits my locked heart,” Tom said.

As he stood looking in the mirror, Tom concluded, “I never knew what she was thinking. Why did she contact me, and why is she gone?”

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5 comments

  1. In this story, as in other stories or poems from the same book, This Way To The End, I can see again the image of the chirping bird family which seems to suggest almost the ideal life those animals lead. This image is being beautifully contrasted with human life and with the main character, Tom. Instead of having what seems to be a nice family in the birds’ case, he is a human being getting older, unmmarried, no children. However, even the male bird does not totally represent the ideal life as it keeps on hitting the window glass that acts like a mirror, trying to attack itself. Tom ends up comparing himself with that bird. He is not protecting any woman, which seems to be the natural function of men as in animals. Instead, Tom thinks of a failed love relationship when he looks at what he says “my own shadow in the mirror”. He does not even see his reflection but a shadow which could symbolize his love failure with a woman he found extremely beautiful, someone who affected “all my other relationships” but also someone who is just a reminder of a person he never really knew well.


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