Some Starlings have built a nest
in our uncapped vestigial chimney
and the babies have found their way
into the living room wall cavity.
It’s like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds at our house
but with a psychotic pet cat
(something that would have made the movie even better).
They periodically flit and chirp
in manic yet ethereal tones.
Our cat can’t handle it.
She looks at me with wide eyes
as she backs around the room dizzily,
crying the cries of one who believes herself to be going mad.
We fall on the ‘cat-parent’ end of the spectrum:
even before I call our contractor
or the pest control guy,
I take her to the vet,
concerned about her psychological wellbeing
and a fanciful idea
that one of the baby birds
may have squeezed its way, mouse-like, through the tiny gap
between the living room floorboards and the wall trim
and she might have eaten it
and it could give her a disease.
Our vet understands the importance
of unearthing a cat’s motivations.
He also checks every inch of her exquisite little body
because I am afraid that her Lassie-like meows
are her desperate attempt to tell me she has cancer
while in my human stupidity I interpret that her problem
is a wall-full of unseen, unreachable prey.
He says, cats eat birds all the time
and they are fine.
Some cats eat birds and they aren’t used to it,
so they get sick.
He says that for Macavity,
this experience is like if Nate and I
began inexplicably hearing human voices in the walls.
Confine her to a room in your house
away from the chimney, he says.
And I think, when we nicknamed our house The West Nest,
we should have foreseen that the birds would take us literally.
Outside the house, our contractor, a family friend
who brewed a special stout for our wedding,
picks up the body of a baby bird that fledged too soon
and fell from the chimney into the garden
between his thumb and forefinger:
a Starling, stiff with rigor mortis.
Starlings are invasive pests, he tells me.
They’ll have two more rounds of babies
before the summer’s over unless you cap the chimney.
He wipes his fingers on his trousers:
I don’t see how your cat could have eaten one
—she doesn’t go outside.
And I think, Starlings don’t know that they’re pests,
they have hopes and dreams just like other birds.
All animals have dreams,
all animals become unbridled in their dreams.
Little lion, I find myself hoping
that you have eaten a baby bird.
It is meet and right so for a cat to do.
Inside your stomach, it rests in the gentle cocoon
of one who loved it so much that she consumed it.
It will remain until you release it, at which time
it will enter a plastic bag since you are an indoor cat
who defecates in a small, cute plastic box,
then on to a landfill,
never to re-enter the life-cycle,
protected in a receptacle
that could take hundreds of years to break down.
Starlings in the chimney;
cats confined to houses:
the unnaturalness of these ‘homes,’
the unnatural way that human beings,
native to the planet, exist here like aliens,
retro-fitting the earth to our unearthly standards
instead of terraforming ourselves!
If there is any hope in this story
of purposeful and accidental traps,
it is that the nests we build,
however flawed their execution,
are intended to bind our loved ones to ourselves,
to protect us until we are ready to fly away.
Yet, there is also an odd emancipation in the mistakes.
Unexpectedly, a small bird, eager to leave the nest,
has met my little house cat and she has dined on him.
He has been incorporated into her wide-eyed stare,
her purr, her midnight bursts of energy.
I find a solitary downy feather underneath the sofa,
and I think of her in the office upstairs, dreaming.