There was a woman in the penthouse of a tower like a birdcage, but you hardly could tell she was a woman, hidden deep in the crux of all the stratospheres of her dress. It was made of newspaper clippings which the bluebird had sloughed off zephyrs glad to let go the burden; the words inside the bodice and hem meant more to her skin than to her mind, which needed eye contact to understand language. But the ink penetrated her slowly, as an apple falls, day by day. One day it will hit one skull. Then, the numbness of humanity will forever be coffined under trapdoor of falsely smiling honey-grass. Let us hope that hour does not fall soon enough to blot our story.
There was a bluebird who brought the woman things from the open winds of the village. From the cathedral’s forebrow he plucked the sound of bells to melt on her tongue; from the crumpling lung of the peasants’ river he snatched the fleeting sour of sackcloth laundry to tickle her eyelids. It was thus that the woman in the birdcage learned to speak, and then to think beforehand. However, the bluebird never minded what the woman said, whether she proclaimed her love or threatened his sudden end. For he was old as birds are old, and had long ago dropped language upon the heads of the people below in order to lighten his own load as, free from consonants, he conversed with constellations. And she learned by the subtleties of the eyes in his stars, whether she was saying something bad or good, and she learned that whatever she chose to say mattered not. Her words, however bright, would soon be shadowed by the light of so many millions of other stars just like her own.
There was a space between the twining bars behind the back of the woman in the birdcage on the tower. There was a small dark slot where a metal key hid, tapping ever so slightly through her bodice of old news and her skin of illiterate tattoos and the meat and veins until it came to the spine, which it gripped as one grips a column in a parthenon as the earth tilts sideways, as one grips a perfect love which dissolves as soon as the thought of fingertips. But unlike love or parthenons, this metal key had a purpose; It locked between the vertebrae according to a design. When the woman needed to shift between seasons, it would unspool, loosening a thread of paper from her dress, disrobing her stealthily over the course of a lullaby played so sky in the piano’s chiffon chambers you would strain to hear it; you would think it was a fairy in the belly of a baby bird crying half-headedly for help. But it was there, and no one listened, and no one noticed the progression until she was naked.
And it was cold in Paris. The bluebird told her it was Paris, and it was cold, and she crumpled in two dimensions just like a leaf of paper. But where her hair once blossomed, a black curl of ink sealed her head away from judgment: no letter nor numeral but the sign that locks a pathway of music into the voice of a particular instrument carved solely for that purpose. In order to hear her – for he had never listened before – the bluebird needed to carve it. And he had not language nor hands.
Image credits in order of appearance:
“Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.” By ktanaka, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56333019
“Izmir Clock Tower.” By No machine-readable author provided. Burakhuseyin assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1519154
“A Bluebird taking flight. by John Gresham.” By Virginia State Parks staff – “Leaving You Behind” Uploaded by AlbertHerring, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29211208