Repercussions (Little Brown Bird)
It caught my eye. Dangling, swaying in a gentle breeze, out at the end of the pier. It moved in and out of sight between gaps in the railing, so I moved closer for a better look. A bunch of little brown birds flitted frantically, nervously about, chirping excitedly, but eventually flew away as I got too close for their comfort.
Ah, damn. Head tossed back in violent repose, fragile wings folded limp at its side, one of those same little brown birds swayed in the currents of air. Tangled in carelessly discarded fishing line, wrapped around posts and rails, just as if the hangman had secured the noose around its neck, pulled the lever, dropping to its death. In the moment it became entangled, unable it free itself, panicked attempts tightening the noose, its doom became ensured.
Moments before I had stopped to render aid to a fellow mountain biker whose chain had come off, wedged in between the biggest cassette cog and the plastic guard. The guard had served its purpose but was now a shambles and the bike would not be ridden until it came off. I lent him the folding knife carried in my camelbak, I think the first time it has been used, and a couple minutes later we both resumed our rides.
Half a ride later I considered using the knife a second time - to cut the little bird, though devoid of life, free of the bonds binding it in death. I would let it drop into the lapping lake waters shimmering beneath, beyond. No one would think on the little bird, no one but me. Eventually it would sink beyond view, beyond thought. No one would grow sad, for however brief a moment, thinking on its needless death. No one would learn from someone else's lapse, careless mistake.
I left the little brown bird dangling, swaying. Maybe just maybe, someone, next time will collect their broken line; maybe someone will think of the repercussions, realize that their actions have meaning beyond a discarded moment.
We erect ghost bikes, markers of discarded moments when careless individuals fail to consider the repercussions of their actions. We reconfigure streets, rightfully factoring safety over convenience, hoping to stem the flood of incidental casualties. People rail against such things, affronts to their god-given right to drive fast and free, carelessly swinging the noose with one free hand. None of them will remember the bicyclist lying, broken, at the side of the road.
No one will remember the little brown bird hanging lifeless beside the lake.