Saturday, February 19, 2011

Airport Window

I would have taken a photograph, but I was standing in the security line at the airport, with camera buried in bag and sure to look dodgy if I suddenly started photographing seemingly nothing but a window to the tarmac. I wanted those in line around me to see it--it was that arresting-- but wasn't sure they'd appreciate it. So I said nothing while studying its strange beauty.

It was the silhouette of a bird, faint, but unmistakeably that of a bird in flight, with suggested lines impressed on the glass where the bird made what was likely mortal contact. A sudden but fully focused event. I didn't see the impact, only the evidence.

There was no physical matter left, not even a feather, only lines like white and grey pastel rubbings. The grime of jet exhaust and wind blown debris made up a media perfect for capturing a strange avian graffiti. Like a cave painting, or a fingerprint. It was stunningly beautiful, in greyish tones. The wings were spread in full flight; faint tail feathers fanned out broadly. It is the image you would make if you tried to capture winged flight in a plaster cast or an archaeological rubbing.

Apropos at an airport to have an artful representation of flight. But heart-rending, knowing it was a creature's final act. Not checked by a flinch or a dodge, just full-on transfer of live flight into still life on a glass platen. The bird never saw it coming. But I saw where it had been. My clumsy sketch does no justice at all, but I tried to grab the moment.

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