BY JUSTIN ALLARD
The Horizon is a Nest
Darrrryl lives under my bed for three months, staring out with his bulging eyes, his feathers demurely ruffled. He has lived a long time surrounded by shadows, electricity, and groaning light. I find him every couple weeks, pull him out, and let my hands trace the kaleidoscope feathers. They unfold in the same plaster patterns each time.
He descended into my life amidst the sawing of boards and hours of editing. I found him while I hung lights for the cursed play Macbeth for at least seven hours each night, wondering if I could energize my husk body to keep going.
Then, one night while crammed in the tech booth, this blue macaw statuette flapped into view. I reached up to his celestial roost and pulled him down.
There are miracles in the paint flecks of his talons, dripping from his beak. Guardians must reach down to dispense their blessings when they are needed most.
Darrrryl walks among us, living on the peninsula bar of my kitchenette. From his vantage point, he has seen the refracted mechanisms of dozens of lives. There are 30 pictures taped to the wall above the couch. Thirty perspectives on Darrrryl drawn by artful and artless hands. There are two veins of Darrrryl iconography: those who capture the concave, coy, inviting right eye and those who confront the convex, jutting left eye. Few people have the spiritual fortitude to wrestle with both eyes at once, but there is a small, megalomaniacal sect who do not avert their eyes from Darrrryl’s unmitigated gaze.
The way that Darrrryl appears to you is special. Each of these drawings embodies one person grappling with a powerful entity. Each of them is sacred. It is a gallery with one subject.
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It makes strangers uncomfortable.
I am a jealous apostle. I wish that the world didn’t need this statuette. That he was just for me. That I could keep him for myself and sulk in his protective, eternal gaze. Darrrryl is like a wildflower grassland with trails you can run down and hide in, twist garlands of white and purple and tiny specks of yellow, quiet except for the whispers you pray specially to him.
I have blasphemous visions of scooping Darrrryl up and ramming his body beak-first into a brick wall and then the ground and then stomping until Darrrryl is dust. What kind of T.J. Eckleburg bullshit do I think this is? Does Darrrryl even care about me? How can he watch me flounder in rejection and identity confusion and so much alcohol the world spins when I close my eyes without offering one squawk? He is not helping with my brother’s panic attacks abroad and he’s not painting my grandma’s house and he is silent against my desperate questions, my pleas. Darrrryl stands by and stares. He is too much like me.
Flurry, Flap Those Wings!
I have dreams where I start flying. I can soar wherever I want to, just floating and flipping around the tops of trees, bouncing off roofs. I don’t know how to flap my wings. There is no purpose to this flying, it is just as everyday as breathing. It is not special. Darrrryl doesn’t fly. He doesn’t cost more than $17.
There are many things that Darrrryl doesn’t do. There are many things that I don’t do either. I wonder when I pass him along to a novitiate what he will accomplish or not accomplish for his next owner. I wonder what I will do and not do when he is gone. We are very much the same, I think: distant, brilliantly-colored, unexpressive.
I do not want to gift Darrrryl away without breaking through the plaster. Underneath the feathers and sunrise beak is an egg rocking with hatching vigor. I want to find my way in and learn to hold a fragile shell. I will take it with me wherever I go. When the time comes and something emerges from within the egg, I want to feel the shell around me shatter, too. In hatching I want rebirth, to fly. Darrrryl will have gone back to the heavens. Someday we will reunite. When the chick that I am learns to flap those wings.
Justin Allard is a graduate of Centre College and currently resides in Louisville, KY. Their work has been featured in Entropy Magazine.