Tag Archives: Mother to Chick

“Mother to Chick” – Fiction by Rebecca Ann Jordan

Young girl eating a bird (The pleasure) - Rene Magritte, 1927
Young girl eating a bird (The pleasure) – Rene Magritte, 1927

Earlier this year, we asked Rebecca Ann Jordan if she could write us a flash fiction inspired by Rene Magritte’s painting “Young girl eating a bird.” The result is the enchantingly eccentric & superbly disturbing “Mother to Chick,” one of many flappy lits you can read in our Fall 2015 issue.

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IN THOSE DAYS, WOMEN WEREN’T PERMITTED TO FLY. It would have been unseemly, like wearing pants then, or wearing skirts now.

I was born with feathers tucked between my teeth. I bet they don’t tell it that way. Screams of horror at being thrust into a cold world turned to giggles, feathers tickling the mouth’s roof. They who grasped my ankles and spun me around, who made me lust for vertigo, also made me vomit out the feathers.

It was already too late for me. I’d been hooked on flight.

The birds, they listen to me in the way that dogs or horses listen to men but not women. I’ve never seen a man could charm a finch down from an apple tree. (Disregard tall tales, always shinier in hindsight anyway.)

I, avian hoarder, began to accumulate them young. A hummingbird perched on my ear, woodpecker on shoulder, quail hurrying along in my perfumed wake. Now they hover, churning flurry, behind me—a mile-long veil of feathers and cacophonic chirps. All want attention.

All prove their value with flight.

My little dog chases the ground-dwellers until they’re forced to light upon my skin, digging in little claws.

I made my own attempt in all the usual ways, plus:

  • Lifting molted feathers, fallen in a flurry from my train. First glued, then soldered to my skin, shoved into holey pores. I thought then to skip the easily-melted wax; I’m not incapable of learning from the past
  • Weaving a net the larger birds could burrow up inside, press against the roof, and me with fingers twined in the ends, they my balloon, I their weight. (Here, you can still see the rope burn that redly elongates my lines of head/lines of heart)
  • Making a machine. Perhaps the magic wasn’t in the birds; selfish to keep it to themselves. I made it from branches and leaves; gingham and lace from my dress I tore to pieces; strings and papa’s gears and rubber bands. Rubber bands propelled the gears that tugged the strings that pulled the branches and gingham and lace, all strapped between my shoulder blades. Up and down, went my fake branch / gingham wings, up and down and up and down and up and down. I almost felt myself getting lighter on the upswing, but down always counteracted

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