No lofty purpose in mind we have just fallen to earth. This happens now and again a common occurrence but never on camera. Never to be seen on a Sunday afternoon nature show we time our falls well. We take a moment to gather ourselves before we return to the air. We are waylaid but the North will soon realise and reclaim us. For now let us rest. Let us lie here. Make sense of none of it. We are simply here a neat mess of white flockflesh and feathers. Just towelling wrung from the sky.
There is nobody to blame there is nobody to patiently explain things to us. There is no use in blaming planes or speculating on sleeping balloonists when more than likely our bodies just decided to stop our muscles decided to stop our concentration became and we fell to the ground arranged neatly around this picnic table a beer garden who knows where.
We are not in pain which surprises us we fell such a way.
Parts of us spill onto the road skirting this place. Bicycles avoid us their cyclists ignore us. There are two men in the beer garden they ignore us too. They are arguing. Our attention spans are short we lose interest before we can piece together their argument. They are impossible to tell apart they look so similar. They may be twins they may be exactly the same person. They repeat the same movements. Their bodies are interchangeable. One leans in and waves his fist the other waves back. One man shakes his head the other presses a finger into the table. They swap roles. Simultaneously at once they grip the table edge and thrust away their jaws gritted. As birds we know little of body language little of facial expressions but enough about ballet though this is not in the least bit elegant. We are fascinated but like we say our attention.
Bit by bit we return to ourselves. We start to distinguish our necks and feet and beaks from one another. We are increasingly conscious of what is ours what is not ours but not one of us is yet confident enough to say that should they flex a muscle in this direction say precisely this lump of ourselves would respond. For the while we are all still too exhausted to try. We wait we refuse to wonder we try not to wonder.
We will be off when we have fallen for long enough. When we cannot say but. We will be rid of the city and the men and the girl. There is a girl too. Who knows why such a small creature chooses to hang around such angry men but there she perches on the end of a bench hands held about her knees watching us recover.
Impossibly she catches our eyes all at once. Her pupils are huge it is difficult to make out the colour circling them. We are watched we wonder. Whether she is too old to still have her plush toys us stuffed. Whether she is too young to have heard the stories told about birds like us. Old stories. Bearded gods dressing up like us swallowing princesses in our feathers and kissing with beaks. This would not be a terrible thing. At her age whatever her age is it is far better far safer to imagine doing things with a creature than doing things with a man. No harm in picturing beaks and wings against her chest nothing so far from the horror of the real naked gentleman. Even so we ruffle self-consciously.
Our stares meet. By now we are strong enough we can match her. The colour of her hair is hard to tell like her eyes. We blame the glare of the sun but this is no comfort. We are so obviously white but we cannot agree on her. It would be consoling to see through those uncertain eyeballs into the easy-bruising muddle of childhood behind them skullwards.
But there is none of that. Her eyes are as rigid as the tarmac we are soon to leave and we will be just as glad to leave them behind. Were someone to chalk the pavement with a hopscotch grid would she go play or stay as she is stay watching things fallen from the sky. She makes sense nowhere but this bench still and silent. There is nothing to her beyond the beer garden and these two men swapping themselves in an argument. As birds we know little of fashion beyond what is made from us but these men must surely have dressed each other they are dressed the same. Or that is their argument perhaps. Two men strangers encountering themselves in the street unable to deal with their double in dresscode. They circulate their taut wrists and foreheads but the girl exchanges nothing. She has nothing to offer no hand to hold out for a howdyoudo. There is no awakening sexual or otherwise in our neatly piled bodies for her. We flatter ourselves. Our bulk grows stubborn and spurned and we consider an assault but we are sure to lose.
There is a rumour doing the rounds that we are not improving that we are not coming to ourselves that we have fallen for good this time. We argue back that it is probably stage fright we have never been observed before there is a lot of pressure. It has never taken this long to get up and go is the counterargument. We counter swiftly as birds we know little of time on this scale only seasons the twin big hands of South and North. There is no counter to that only a flockwide shrug. Secretly though we all begin to suspect that the North has abandoned us. We watch the girl we wonder whether.