I bought the apartment because it was gated. The walls too high to scale.
The building next door was Victorian brick. I noticed the name ‘Booth Museum of Natural History’. I knew nothing of the inmates – the formaldehyde and glass eyes. The dusty feathers. The smooth gear change as I pulled away in the morning, the swish of the gates as I returned – I knew that. Maybe sometimes, arriving home, I caught the curl of a blackbird’s song through my car window. Pepper in the gloaming.
One long, light evening of June I stood alone at the kitchen window. Looking down I saw, for the first time, the door in the side of the museum. A broad door. Burgundy paintwork, cracked on the panels. A mesh of cobweb at the hinges. No admittance. And no exit now, leading as it did to the high wall of my block.
I woke to heavy summer rain. As it eased I heard the birds. The chorus. The promise of a fine day. Hand hovering over the kettle I paused – looking down. The door pushed wide, washed clean. Pouring from it, birds of every kind. Redshanks and Kittiwakes. Soft barn owl babies hop hopelessly after their soaring mother. A row of gannets decorate the drainpipe like plaster busts. A burst of tiny, fat twitterers tumble by. The sky is a collage of feather and beak. Rippling, rising and falling, within and without my walls.
© Allie Rogers 2013