Dear London Pigeon,
Thank you for your reply! Interesting that London squirrels aren’t in a similar state of gluttonous torpor. Maybe they don’t fatten up so much as country ones, knowing there’ll be a plentiful supply of food all winter, stolen from bins, or from people who leave out large quantities of bird seed?
Your idea of a squirrel soulmate reminded me of my blackbird ‘friend’ last year. Like your squirrel, he would sit outside my window as I worked, sometimes pecking at the glass as if he wanted to be let in. When I looked up, he’d fix his beady eye on me and not look away. But there was something very offputting about the way he did it. Maybe it was his orange-rimmed eye, which he couldn’t help, but it was also the way he kept on and on staring. I began to wonder if he was somehow possessed, or a reincarnated soul. He clearly had an important message to impart, if only I could understand it.
I stopped feeling remotely romantic about him around the same time he took to perching on my wing mirror, every morning, and shitting down the side of my car. I don’t know if it was revenge for my inability to understand him, or my refusal to let him into the house; or maybe he was someone I had offended in a past life. It’s probably quite hard to wreak serious revenge if you come back as a blackbird.
After that, I began to notice other things about him. Like his claws. Have you ever really looked at a blackbird’s feet? They’re massive! I mean, disproportionately massive, with lethal, hooked claws, especially on the fourth toe. All that deceiving jet-black sleek fluffiness and then you look down and there are monster dino-claws. His lack of fear began to unnerve me. I could put my face right up to his on the other side of the glass and still he wouldn’t move. I know blackbirds can be territorial, but it’s not like I look like a rival blackbird. I think.
I began mentioning him to other mothers in the school playground at drop off time, but then I realised I didn’t sound entirely normal, talking about a psychotic blackbird, so I kept him to myself, like a disturbing secret.
He stayed with me all summer, this blackbird, but by October he was gone and a pair of new blackbirds have recently arrived. They scamper along the decking, taking off as soon as I move. They’re a pair of flibbertigibbets. Both are looking a little sorry for themselves in all this wet, although I noticed one has a shiny orange bill that exactly matches our Halloween pumpkins, which I’ve yet to throw out. They never give me that same direct, unnerving stare, these two, and I’m not sure we’re going to build up much of a relationship. But then again, nor have they taken to crapping on my car.
Love, Wood Warbler
ps Yes it’s true I occasionally write poems. I hear you also illustrate? Perhaps I can post a poem when you’ve posted some of your illustrations