Last passenger

Memory works strangely, spooling its threadover the nails of events barely related,creating finally some picture, if we’relucky, of a life—but more likely, it knotsitself, catches on a nail or in our throatsthat gasp, as it binds our necks, for air.

An example: today marks one hundred yearssince your namesake, the last living passengerpigeon, died in Cincinnati. It also marksa year since we last spoke. Although aroundthe world, zoos mourn her loss, I’m donewith you. I mourn no more your voice, the firstsound I heard outside my body that reachedinto my throat and set me ringing. But that string—

memory that feels sometimes more like a tidehas yoked together, bound your voice to that bird,the frozen, stuffed, forgotten pigeon—my heartis too easy, but it must do—to blink, to flexits unused toes, slowly thaw to the wetnessof beating wings, fly to me again, and alight,singing full-throated, on my broken shoulder.