Little bird, Part I

July 21st, 2010

I had this dream about a little bird. I was in an outdoor market in Krakow, looking for a craftsman to make me a keychain out of straw. Going from stall to stall, I ask if they can do it for fifteen to twenty dollars. Fifteen to twenty? No. Nie. Nie. Some laugh at me. Impossible request.

Finally I got a yes. I think it was a man, and he was old. So he hands me a picture of myself in a schmaltzy pink frame, but it’s not quite a picture of me. The face is thinner, a bit older. While I’m puzzling over the image, he starts working with this bunch of straw and in seconds hands me my keychain. It’s not a keychain.

It’s a little bird made of thin threads of silver, with its wings tucked in all cozy, just the size of the palm of my hand. Some of the threads are fly aways, like feathers about to fall off the bird’s little plump body. I ask how much it is, and the man in some language I don’t understand calculates the cost, writing down a series of six or seven numbers on a piece of paper.

Then he tells me it’s eighty seven dollars and I say no, I said fifteen to twenty and he shakes his head. We go on like this for a long time until, in a moment of desperation, I have him make twenty little silver birds and buy them all.

What I love about this dream is that feeling of holding the bird in my hands and seeing that the feathers, so life-like, are just the tiniest, wispiest feathers of silver. The thinnest and most delicate silver the world has ever seen. And I love the impossible haggling, the turned about and mysterious logic that made the dream me exclaim that I wanted TWENTY birds. Fine! Twenty!

Why? Why more? Why twenty? I’m sure if I saw this craftsmanship in the waking world I would try to buy as many as possible, even if it cost $1600 some odd dollars. I would want to give them away, one by one, to the people I love the most. I want to find this old man in that market in Krakow.

I half hope that some amazing artist is reading this now who will write me and tell me they can get the feel of that bird, even just the spirit, in wood or clay or felted wool.

For now I’ll settle for all these birds that have slowly begun to fill the shelves and windows of my house. It started with the little silver bird. Sometimes I think the bird is my soul, spun from straw into silver. Sometimes the twenty little birds seem like my children that aren’t here yet, or the brothers and sisters I already have.  I love that dream. The favorite of a lifetime. The feeling of strange desperation, elation, shouting–I’LL TAKE TWENTY!!

I love that impossible little bird. So I named this blog after it.