last week's axes were awfully obvious, if one can blog about emotional and cultural geometry (does one blog about anything else?). down on the fifth floor of our apartment building, a pair of our elderly neighbors were sitting shiva for her late mother. my morning training runs intersected with their visitors' arrivals and departures—we are all on the same secret schedule—and i'd share my vertical trips with a half-dozen mourners. on the way down in the elevator i would wish them well (i'm sorry), and on the way back up i'd squish myself into a corner and try to downplay my sweatiness (i'm sorry).
horizontally i crunched out to the bird hospital and the bookstore along grand street, a dragon's gullet of scarlet and gold awaiting the beginning of the year of the sheep. a flyer in the laundry room invited us to the annual lion dance at the restaurant down the block. the dancers wear strips of lights in their pants; it's outstanding. back and forth, trailing glitter and feeling the rustle of my nostrils freezing together.
i came up the stairs and across the bird hospital yesterday to help splint and re-bandage a crow. he's in terrible shape, with tendon-baring gashes across his legs and a grisly keel wound, and he's developed a respiratory infection. i realized when i entered the treatment room that i'd been called to replace J, one of my favorite staffers; her eyes above her surgical mask were fixed on nothing, up and away. in birds we call that stargazing, a symptom of anything from an awkward position in the egg to poisoning or a virus. for J it was the news that her beloved crow will probably be euthanized today. "he'll bite you," she murmured as she left the room, and he did, halfheartedly at first and then so hard that i forgot where i was for a second (who is stronger than death?). three serrated caws as i returned him to his carrier when we were finished. i went back downstairs.