My family never had pets growing up besides for two years; my father brought home Japanese white-eye fledged birds. To be precise, my dad climbed a tree and sneaked three baby birds out of the nest before their mother came back. My dad fed these birds worms as if they were new babies, our siblings to the family. I believe it was fall, but I could be wrong. The time felt cold, because I remember I had my sweater on. Only one bird made it out alive. We named it Fruit. Since it grew up with us humans, Fruit thought it was also a human for a couple months; it’d sit on my glasses napping or flick into a cup flapping its wings and showering. But slowly, Fruit became uncomfortable around us. It’d be sweet and performative as usual for a few minutes but then fluttered into hesitation and confusion. We all knew it was happier when we left the cage outside on the balcony, so it stayed there longer and longer. My sister is the most tender and sensitive member of the family; she also had the closest relationship to Fruit. One day, while we were busy, Fruit flew away and my sister was devastated. She cried for a couple days, real tears. But I’ve always accused her of letting Fruit go. In my mind, my sister didn't have the heart to witness Fruit’s suffering and relented. She has denied my conspiracy theory. I argue a lot with my sister, but I had never had a fight with Fruit. Maybe Fruit was never my sibling.
Since the tragedy had broken our hearts, my dad decided to retrieve that experience of raising an animal and obtaining our responsibility. The next year, he brought back two Japanese white-eye fledged birds. I don’t even remember their names; a name is the lock and chain of a body. Whoever calls you owns the key. I tried to rename one of the birds Fruit, hoping to erase the bitter memory, but we just couldn’t twist the rusty name into the newcomer’s body. Oddly no one else cares about naming as I do. They ended up being nameless. They would tweet to each other energetically until noticing we were around. It’s a secret between the siblings. One day one of them escaped down the stairs, from the fifth floor to the first floor; a few days later, the other one escaped, too. A few months later, I woke up in the dawn and saw three Japanese white-eye birds jumping around the balcony. My sister happily accused me of dreaming. She’s probably still jealous.
I’ve never felt connected to any English names that my teacher granted me. For a period of time, my English name was Sparrow when I arrived to the States. The story came from my high school, since everyone had a nickname, I just called myself Sparrow. I’m physically small and tend to talk a lot when I’m nervous. I chose a pervasive entity because there’s nothing special about me. Also, I wish to lift apart from this troubling personality and all of the thoughts, but they’re like a shadow. It is self-deprecation.
I was away from Taiwan for a couple years, and the first memory I have when I returned is waking up to the singing of several different types of birds. Indeed it was a full speed orchestra. I complained to my mother, and she looked at me as if I were being fussy, elaborating “None of us feel anything.” And I remember immediately that this is a standard answer from my mom especially when I observe strange phenomenals, sometimes pains.
A few years later, when I slept in another room, a bird that was dwelling under the roof wouldn’t go to sleep the whole night. My family told me that when that happened to one of our neighbors, he was extremely pissed off, so he set up firecrackers to annoy the bird. In the end, our neighbor sold the house. Can the bird hear us as we hear them?
In the theory of reincarnation, birds and chickens evolved from dinosaurs. Now chicken’s in the meat industry. What did dinosaurs do to deserve this? Hunting? What have I done?
綠繡眼 Mountain White-eye
Literal translation: Green Embroidered Eye
Nest me, please.
Fly me to your sky, I requested. Where time stalls and clouds are made by exquisite feathers. They are pieces. In the layer,
I heard in the den
beak singing and a break.
I heard knocking, break fast.
I heard flipping, a breakthrough.
Here came the peak, I heard
your brain pinkly squeaking.
Did you hear jealousy
Haven’t you heard of rubbery/robbery
In returns for your magnanimity, I invited you back to my cabin. Revealing a need to lock the bird calls, I placed the wing on my eyebrows. I stitched the crown into eyelashes. The claws inside my sunken-eyes were inhibited. I petted the tail ‘til I here what I hear.
Should not have accepted the calling,
you entered. Indoors,
docile, light-footed bone. Between you and me,
an animal is in need of a piece of