The Birds Sing Here

Sunday, August 20, 2017



The birds sing here.

They twitter away, warbling through their song, on and off. The dove's coo is the most distinctive. If you want to bottle Arizona, send a dove's call from the top of a cinderblock wall.
The pool pump outside the open window hums, constant in the background, and those two things alone could place me right back in summer, any summer. If my eyes were closed, I wouldn't know the difference.
But it's not just those two things.
It's the musty smell that hangs in the air and the towels no matter how many times you wash them, no matter if you open the dusty windows. Everything is dry and cracked and cooked. Paint crackles off in bleached flakes and the water spurts through the scratchy throat of the pipes and out of the faucet's rusted, jade green edges.
I can feel the moisture being sucked from between the cracks in my skin by the greedy air, dry stucco house, hardened earth. But outside, vibrant color persists in flashes-leaves of tropical green, shoots of yellow, buds of violent fuschia-all trained to survive harsh temperatures and months of drought.
In my mind, the landscape is washed white, lightened by the inescapable, always-summer sun.

The grass is always green in Arizona.
That's not a metaphor, it's just the truth. People pay hundreds of dollars every month to spray water over acres of lawn, acres of artificial proof of financial capability.
Kids don't realize this, though. It's just green.
Kids climb trees, use the cinderblock wall as leverage even though it rubs dry, leaves a rough pattern and bits of rock on the palm of your hand. They bob in the pool as the sun finally descends behind the roof of the house, buoyant between the streak clouds above and the reflection below. Bees hum around the edge and when you drown one against the pool deck you have to watch out because the others will come to avenge him. Crinkly finger pads strip off wet suits and leave them to stiffen and bleach against the specially formulated outdoor chaise lounge cushion.
Sun streams through the hallway windows, warming the bumpy tile in slanted squares. Some of them have tiny paw prints from cats that wandered through the drying slates, through the Mexican town where the tiles were mixed and poured and dried and stacked before crossing through desert to desert.
Don't step on those.
For most of the day, you're confined to the inside. The heat reminds you of this if you try to venture out.
When dusk comes, lay on your bedroom floor. Feel your shoulder blades press into the carpet. Watch the outline of the mountains glow black against the burning white sky through the dusty window slats.



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