Chilling in Tempelhof

Here I am chilling, perched on top of a magenta pole, at the edge of fields that, for a time, humans had cemented over for the landing and taking off of metallic, crypto birds endowed with no hollow bones but a lot of cramped sitting space and cargo holds. Though I might appear to be relaxed, I am actually scanning the terrain in case one of the humans lost an earring so I can take it to my girl Magda. Once in a while, I can’t help but break out in a chuckle, which leads the rest of my comrades to wonder whether something is slightly off with me.

All of this on account of my, for lack of a better word,  ‘frontal cortex’ which insists on showing the ‘past’ of this exact location, as if in a movie on loop. It’s not my fault if I received the gift and they, my comradely, beak-endowed, airborne creatures,  haven’t. And you too would burst out laughing  if you kept having visions of the crypto-bird shenanigans: two adult ‘men’ (later on a few ‘women’ too)  at the front surrounded by a whole bunch of buttons and levers and radars and gauges and large windows (to actually see what they were doing) managing to perform the most bizarre, imaginative landings and take offs, which undoubtedly they must have deemed to be acrobatics fetes. In some of the cheaper varieties of planes the ‘passengers’, at the signal of a trumpet,  would clap with relief as they got ready to put their feet on the ground and resume the art of walking, which they are best at (in fact you can’t begin to understand my envy for their marvelous use of legs and feet, their versatility and grace of movement, all I can manage on the ground are clumsy, tiny  jumpy leaps that make me look like one of their infants trying out their feet and legs, or someone on crutches).

The worst thing, though, about being in these landing zones for crypto-birds, was when they would invade our line of flight, either on takeoff or landing, with absolutely no consideration for  any creature who is airborne and minding their own business. Following  that line of thought, the massacres of flying insects are too vast to be told. Whoever  had not managed to get out of the way fast (and there are hundreds of reasons why we couldn’t) would be sucked in by their stupid engines; one of the most horrible experiences known to the aviary world, akin to torture in the human experience,  or they would end up  splashed flat against the fecking windshield, all the innards burst out and creating quite an unsightly mess…  You’ll object that birds are no stranger to predatory projects and practices and that we have our own birds of prey to worry about, but that’s a different story,  there is some honor there.  Those birds belong to the hunting tribes and are finely tuned, aerodynamically built to come swooping down on you. Their beaks and talons are wonderfully built to hold on to you and masterfully slice you open in one fell swoop.  So, at the very last minute, when you become aware that your fate is sealed, you  are seized by an almost religious sense of awe, you almost willingly give yourself in sacrifice so that a member of this other bird tribe may live. Maybe, just maybe, once you are integrated into their being  you too will have the privilege of adventure, the gift of seeing the world  through the sharpness  of their eyes.- you too get to be an eagle and not a sparrow or a crow. let me tell you, it’s a totally different experience than ending your days smack against the windshield of a crypto-bird.  Some bird songs, which have been handed down to us for a few generations, tell us of some instances in which the souls of a few heroic birds who were granted time enough to realize what was happening to them,  though their bodies be tiny by comparison, found the strength of rage and justice, unleashed the full force of their fury, and caused the crypto-bird to crash. However, you  are not going to find that in the annals of human glory (by the way, annals of human failures do exist, but they are kept neatly  hidden, under key and lock. By the way, on that score, humans have provided enough material to create whole lines of counter-epics, but obviously there won’t be any Homer to sing them in the times human hegemony (or better said, the times in which that species viewed themselves as all powerful and all knowing).

Anyway, going back to the ‘men’ in the front of the metallic box, unlike us, the records I have inscribed in my bones tell me that they were not engaging in the autonomous, instinctive activity nature had endowed them with: in the birdly observation handed down to me, they were intent, with the utmost concentration, on executing maneuvering orders issuing  from what appears to be a command center. They appeared to be receiving constant ‘assistance’ from some other official sounding  ‘men’ in a high tower constantly yelling instructions in a coded language, in which some deity named Roger was constantly evoked,  while on the ground more menial ‘men’ with flags busied themselves waving flags of many colors instructing them on how to direct the bird between marked, cemented fields.

However, aside from these ‘men’ in the ‘cabin’, according to the testimony of birds who flew parallel to the  side windows and had a narrow escape from the  sucked-in or flattening experience, the hollowed central part of this most ridiculous, stylized bird was itself a most intriguing object to observe: it was brimming with hundreds of closely packed seats where hundreds of humans sat still in rows for hours and hours, as engines roared drawing them in a shamanic state of torpor. At some point of the journey some wore masks over their eyes, others collapsed over the retractable tables jutting out of the seat in front of them.  Somewhere leaning against the tiny window next to them in the most uncomfortable of position, their neck bobbing about like a person who has just been executed on the gallows. The ones sitting on the aisle stretched their legs in that direction causing people who were half sleep- walking to trip, or else if the walker was awake enough, they were forced to engage in all sorts of acrobatics which were actually helpful to increase blood circulation.

Actually in some of the most bizarre clips from the movie constantly looping in my brain, that I have been entrusted with, for I don’t know what reason, there is a sequence with people taking their feet out  of their shoes, rotating their ankles and wiggling their toes around, following a script that is shown them on a screen. I keep wondering if it is some sort of propitiatory ritual for a safe landing. Maybe they scatter their priestly folks in the seats in a manner which may seem erratic to our untrained eye but which in reality converges in a pattern that is itself conducive to safety. I’ll have to look more at depth into this.

One thing I find hard to explain is the section toward the front where, unlike the back where people are all bunched together, humans are living large, they even have rotating, plush armchairs and a bucket full of ice with a bottle of fizzy wine to help them pass the time. This in the front, in the back sections, once in a while a smiling, seductive woman passes by with a cart bringing edibles and small bottles or cans to drink from so their anxiety would be assuaged. Over the years the initial, smiley, siren-like nature of the server changed and there was a diversity of body types, genders, dispositions.  From the exclusively seductive norm, it got to the point where these servers could be outright cranky.

Curiously, not everyone was receiving food from the servers at the same time, only a selected few, but I cannot figure out on what basis.  Plus, at a certain point they introduced new products besides food on their carts.  Again, I can’t explain why but favorite gadgets for sale seemed to be perfumes, costly makeup and electronic gadgets. Very few people interacted with this latter version of servers/vendors, but,  for the life of me, I can’t figure out why in the world they didn’t stop doing it when they saw that it wasn’t a very successful enterprise.  Silly humans, go figure their logic.

However, all these considerations aside, I keep wondering if anything was added to that liquid these servers served to help the ‘passengers’ stay put for all those hours and not start screaming or breaking into panic attacks thinking of their distance from the ground where they naturally are supposed to dwell.  But I am running ahead of my story.  All of these images are related to lifestyle that parts of the human population, mostly in the Northern hemisphere, experienced after the big catastrophe that occurred in the point in ‘time’ many  humans on earth used to identify as  point 1945.  Yes, they  did have a penchant for putting numbers everywhere: they painted them on the side of the houses where they lived, on the ground where the steel crypto-birds were supposed to land.  They even devised mathematical formulas for how the whole of reality hangs together, or how things relate to one another, or the part to the whole…