The Caged Bird
Once a man was working in his study when he heard a beautiful song coming through the open window. It was so striking that he stopped his work and went outside to find the source. The song stopped when he came into the garden. The man stood very still and waited. Soon he heard the song again. His eyes followed the sound until he saw a small bird perched on a branch in the apple tree. The bird was not that pretty; it was drab brown with just a hint of yellow on its breast. But the man was drawn to it just the same. It stopped singing as soon as he came near, so he went back into his study to work.
The next day, the man heard the bird again and again he took a break from his work to listen to it. Soon this became a habit, and he began to anticipate its arrival, heating a cup of tea and going out into the garden to wait for its song. The bird became tame and began to sing in the man’s presence. He would sit for a while listening before returning to his work. As Spring came, his tea breaks became longer and longer.
This continued throughout the Spring and then summer. But the man began to worry that the bird would leave in the Autumn, to fly away to warmer lands. What could he do? Finally, he decided he would have to keep the bird from flying away. He went to a fancy pet shop and bought a beautiful cage, which he hung from the apple tree. He put bird treats in the cage. At first, the bird wouldn’t approach the cage, but the man kept trying different treats and finally one day, the little bird entered the cage. The man quietly closed the door to the cage. He felt bad but what could he do? He couldn’t bear to lose his little bird.
The man fed his pet bird well and talked to her. She was used to his voice so she was not frightened. She would cock her head and listen then respond with a quick chirp. After a while, she began to sing again. The man was relieved. It appeared that his little bird was happy. As Autumn approached and the weather grew colder, he brought the cage inside at night. He even put a little blanket in her cage, which she seemed to like. Then the rains came and he kept her cage inside all day. The little bird sang less. But the man reasoned that wild birds sang in the Springtime, not in the Winter. His little bird seemed content enough.
The Winter was a long one and the man found the little bird to be good company. In turn, he treated her well. He fed her choice food, gave her toys to play with, talked to her, and even put music on the phonograph for her listening pleasure. He put her cage by the window so she could look out. Sometimes he worried that she seemed a bit lethargic and her feathers were losing their sheen. But again, he reasoned that it was Winter and this would be true of all birds, wild or tamed. He thought about opening the door of her cage to let her fly around the house, but he was worried that she might injure herself. Or find an open window and fly away. And wasn’t he providing her all that she needed?
Finally Spring arrived again. The tulips and daffodils burst into bloom, the air grew warm, and then the apple tree bloomed. One day, the man put the bird’s cage back into the apple tree. “Sing, little bird,” he said. “It is Spring. Be glad and sing.”
But the little bird did not sing. She fluttered her wings a bit and flew against the cage bars. Then she settled on her perch and just sat. The man did not know what to do. That day, he spent much of the day in his study working. When he went out at sunset to bring the cage in, he found his bird sitting listlessly on the bottom of the cage. Was she sick? Had she gotten too cold?
The next day, the man kept the cage inside and even put in an extra blanket. The bird flew to the bottom of the cage to sit on the blanket. Oh, so she had been cold, the man reasoned. He felt better. But the next day was the same. Despite a warm sun, the bird just sat on the blanket on the bottom of the cage. She didn’t sing, she didn’t even chirp when the man brought her a special treat. All that day it seemed to him that she was looking at him reproachfully. But he didn’t know what to do about it.
That week, the man spent much time with his bird, talking to her, plying her with treats, and whistling tunes to entice her to sing. “Get well, little bird,” he urged. “I need you, I can’t bear to lose you.” But she just sat and looked at him, without even one chirp.
That night, the man had a dream. In the dream, his beloved bird called “Let me out “
“But you will fly away,” the man answered in his dream.
“Possibly. But if you don’t let me out, you will surely lose me.”
The man awakened. In the dark, he went over to the cage and felt the door. It was still locked. He opened the door and went back to bed.
In the morning, remembering his dream, the man jumped out of bed and ran to the cage, fearing the worst. But his little bird was on her perch fast asleep. Should he close the door of the cage then? But still under the influence of his dream, the man left the door open. If his little bird left, well then, that was her wish. And she would be free.
Later in the morning, as the man was in his study, he heard a little chirp. Looking up, he saw the little bird fly into his study. She sat on the lamp by his desk and cocked her head. She sang a little song, as the man sat very still, then she flew off again.
“Thank you, little bird,” he called. “Fly wherever you wish around the house. But please be careful.”
That afternoon was a warm one and the man wanted to open the windows. But then his bird could escape. What should he do? He found her resting in her cage. So he shut the door of the cage and took it outside into the garden. His little bird looked around and gave a little chirp. But she did not sing.
“Sing, little bird, sing for me. It makes me so happy.”
But she was silent.. The man watched her, thinking. Finally, he stood up, went over to the cage and opened the door. His heart full of dread, he watched as she perched on the edge of the cage door then flew up into the apple tree. Soon he heard her singing. It seemed to him that her song was more beautiful than ever before. But his heart was heavy.
The man was sad, but he knew he must let his little bird be free. So he left the cage open, bringing it in at night and putting it back out when the sun had warmed the garden. The little bird would fly around the garden, then perch and sing. Eventually she would return to the cage. She seemed to like to sleep inside at night.
One day, the little bird did not return to the cage in the evening. She was still gone the next day and the next. The man was sad, but he knew he had done the right thing. He no longer put the cage outside. Then one evening at dusk, as he sat lonely in the garden, dreaming of his bird’s beautiful music, he heard a chirp.
Looking up, he saw his little bird. She perched on his chair and looked at him. “Hello, my friend,” the man said quietly. “Have you been on holiday? Have you had a grand old time?” The bird gave several chirps.
“And are you now going to fly off again? I imagine you have a mate hidden in that apple tree?”
The little bird just kept looking at him. It appeared that she was trying to tell him something. The air was getting cold. The man stood up to go inside. The little bird flew beside him. He opened the door and she flew inside then went to her cage, where the door stood open. She sat on her blanket, then looking at the man, she sang a most beautiful song.
That night, the man had another dream. This time, his bird flew out of the open cage. Soon she returned. And she spoke to the man in a musical language. “If you had kept me imprisoned in your heart, doing your bidding, I would have beaten myself to death against the cage. But, because you freed me and allowed me to be myself, I have returned. I will stay as long as the cage remains open and I can fly at will. And no, I have no mate, for you are the one I love.”
The man awakened with tears flowing down his cheeks. He ran to the cage where his little bird was sleeping on her blanket. She opened one eye, then she fluttered up to perch at the door of the cage. He reached out his hand and she flew onto his palm. Softly, ever so gently, he stroked her feathers. And as he did so, he heard a new sound from his beloved little bird, a soft chirp, more like a contented coo. And now he understood.
For it all!
To Express or to Suppress
Love expressed is love addressed,
Love suppressed is love egressed,
Anger expressed is anger diffused,
Anger suppressed is anger confused.
Generosity expressed is generosity used,
Generosity suppressed is generosity abused,
Kindness expressed is kindness appreciated,
Kindness suppressed is kindness eviscerated.
I loved her well
And she did me.
Our lives entwined,
The richer for it.
But part we must
And part we did,
Too soon, too quick,
And now I sit
And wonder why
I cry and stare,
And wait my turn!
(written upon the death of his German Shepherd in May 2006)
Lovers and Children
Lovers are very much like children,
Love exclusive of all others
Is their common passion.
Their demands are tyrannical,
Resultant frustrations are explosive,
Tranquility quickly becomes rage,
And spent love yields to smoldering hate!
And we wonder why, and cry.
I give unconditional love. I am always overjoyed to see my humans after an absence of only a few hours. I am sad when they leave. I never ask questions. All I ask is to be loved in return.
Wisdoms from JM
Man and woman are life's ham and eggs.
Romance is flirtatious, marriage is dedication.
The demise of a marriage is no surprise when a marriage knows no compromise.
True love takes gently and gives freely.
Silent expectations are all abominations.
Bollards protect, keep away,
Keep crashing trucks at bay,
But leave spaces to go free,
For the small to exit peacefully.
Cages enclose, confine,
Keep the outliers in line,
Keep out intruders too,
But allow no escape for me or you.
This fence is for you,
To keep you safe.
But why then
Do they lock the gate?
If you know love tonight,
Rejoice in its warm light
And think of those bereft
In the dark of night.
But if love has passed you by,
Don't weep and ask why,
Be good to yourself
And learn to fly.
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