KALI'S DAY excerpt

"Candice hears the sounds of birds. The last traces of light stain the cave’s entrance far from where she sits in full lotus covered only in the ashes of the dead. She drifts in and out, sometimes jolted from a vast emptiness by the grumbling of her stomach. So far she can silence hunger by simply focusing and re-focusing on her breath. But the stomach is a dumb animal and its indifference to “mind over matter” is becoming more apparent in the increasing volume of its complaint. It clenches itself like a fist and it’s all she can do to keep her eye closed, though she hears something scratching along the ground somewhere to her left. She’s conquered fear, never feared the dark until right before she conquered it. In another lifetime, there was a longing that she barely remembers. So it’s not fear or need that distracts her now. It’s the knowledge that, other than herself, something animate, something alive is within reach. Most likely it’s one of those large succulent beetles, thickly armored against what she is now in most danger of becoming—a predator, since she hasn’t really conquered appetite, has only concealed it, and despite having risen above the desire for even the simplest bowl of rice, is about to succumb to defeat for the taste of something that until now has been far from tempting or even remotely relevant to the satisfaction of any desire, let alone hunger—especially hunger.

She doesn’t open her eye. But she imagines it crawling heavily over the various obstacles in its way: pebbles and clumps of damp earth, a random search for whatever nourishment, dirt, dead insects, bits of excrement, it might stumble upon."

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Friday, August 28, 2009


Watching pigeons on a roof. He is round, with a pouffed neck and pale gray feathers. She is the same color with a thin, sleek neck, her small tear shaped head converging into a thin yellow beak. She walks along the peak. He walks behind. She doesn't turn. He stops and preens every so often, his head bobbing up to see her with the eye that faces south. She preens then lifts her head towards him, who is now too busy digging into himself to look at her. She walks away. He stands and looks out at the hills, then takes a few steps towards her. She retreats behind the brass chortens and trident that sit at the roof's center. He walks quickly toward her, moving behind the chorten until they're both out of view. She walks out along the roof. He follows. She quickens her pace. He turns to go the other way, but not too far.
They stand this way for a while. Then he flies down to the eave and looks up at her, but she doesn't move. A deep gurgling rises from his throat. She stays still. He croons more gently. She waits, then turns and flies down to him. They lock beaks, looking into each other's eyes, pulling and twisting their necks back and forth. He stops to take something from under his wing feathers and puts it in her mouth with his beak. She grasps his beak with hers. They stay fastened this way for a while, then root around each other's bodies. Another male comes, and she retreats to a ledge. The two males flutter and swell. Her lover flaps once, flies over and stands beside her. The other male swoops away to another roof.
They fly to the ledge below this window and look across at an old pigeon who is now on the roof. He settles deeply into his oily feathers. The young male looks at him and gurgles. The older one stands tall and plumps his feathers into a plush of gray and black, suddenly looking much better. The other puffs up and flies over to face him.
The female hops down to a lower ledge and stands there watching the males. She retreats, then approaches.
The young one looks at the older, who is the more plumped of the two. There is a preening contest, then sudden hostile contact.
The female takes off, and then a sudden crack of thunder. Every pigeon and crow in the city soars into ordered rank except for a few who are either confused or prefer to fly solo.

(C) Bonny Finberg
Bhaktapur, Nepal, 2000