James Pritchett: Writings on Cage (& others)

Birdwing (for Frances)


I am lucky to be at the lake so early, while everything is frozen and unmoving: I can see the three little marks a sparrow's wing left in the snow.

In a moment the wind will blow over them and they will be gone.


We know of a place where woodcocks live. They are secretive and mysterious birds. Every spring we go to witness their nocturnal flight. To do this requires standing in an open field at dusk and waiting: waiting for the daytime birds to go to sleep, waiting for stillness, waiting for the sun and the moon. Only when it is too dark to see will they appear. You can't see them, but you can hear the songs their wings make as they fly, spiralling up and then dropping down.

One year we stood and waited, but they were not there. Neither seen nor heard, the birds flew only in our memories, their wings whistling.

Copyright 1996 by James Pritchett. All rights reserved.