I’m sorry to Fox Sparrow. Because the dark became darker, and for primordial reasons no one knows, he returned. How did he reckon with the absence after so many years. His ancestors knew of my frontyard and told him somehow, so that he trusted it as a place for sustenance, to fly thousands of miles for this one square foot of shrub. And one year there was nothing.
Now I return to Fox Sparrow.
The statues on top of the architecture here look down, disdaining on our frenzy. They have stood there so long that no one identifies them, relegated minor celebrities now ignored except by erosion and pollution. Sacred space, he said. What do they say from up there about down here. Fox Sparrow flies over them, and I bustle under them, from one cathedral to another, one painting to another.
(Rimini 1300’s, Padova)
And how thanks can welcome now, now long enough on this cobbled plaza to understand most of life is forgettable tasks and losses and then precious bursts of presence. The self-flight of wanting the outside world to adapt to my needs. And when life is all that I needed, even if I only realize it now, hundreds of years later, says this old dusty part of the world. The other drivers madly suicidal, pressing against an imagined self-important destination. So many masterpieces, they blur.
The sum of history, the robber barons and politicians and corrupters careless in their greedy deals, so that an Angelico or a Bellini could escape. Luckier still that someone noticed something there after the floods and the rot. There is art in there.
That is no way to say goodbye. In a back room they discovered his final and unfinished Pieta. Who is holding up who, and whose arm is that lifting. And how it looks as if it could topple at any second.
A flight of memories all of them loving even the cruel ones, thank you. Grief is here, too. He tells me, yes the mourning from which all thought emerges, but it’s the same place same thing, what I hold close to me. Sometimes too long. What breaks the heart is mostly heart. And laughter and flesh and thanks. And sometimes catching the ecstatic edge to all this openness, the immense out there, the terror of all possibility. And then having to pack yet another school lunch.
Our performance, this bird and this life, the reverberation is aliveness. Where the play is the only thing to watch and engage — not the players. If only we let ourselves be forgotten. Then we can return to ourselves, however no longer ourselves, but Fox Sparrow. The unfolding self and an empty tomb, completely miraculous. Empty without obligation.
I’m not a believer in anything except Fox Sparrow.
(Performance, “Annunciation.” From Requiem: Welcome Home to Un-Home, 2017. By Summer Lee)