Birds have shit on me exactly three times since my dad died: once in my hair when I was on my way to bereavement therapy, once on my suitcase when I was traveling between New York and Virginia, and once simultaneously on me and my poet friend, who lost his father two weeks ago. Yesterday we were sitting together in the sunshine outside Dodge Hall, the building where we take all our classes. I showed my friend a photocopy of the turtle/frog/spider picture, because I’d just been staring into the creases in my dad’s hand, examining the pool water dripping from his skin, realizing that I’d always looked at the three animals instead of the disembodied hand that held them aloft. My friend showed me a photo of his family which he keeps in his wallet. In this way we were introduced to each others’ dads. Then I heard a sound like my friend had been hit by a falling acorn. His shoulder had been massively bird-bombed. While I tried to clean the poop off his red shirt, I realized that some of it had splattered onto my photocopy.
This led to a discussion about the cosmic meaning of rogue bird shit. Some people say it’s good luck, which it’s obviously not, because you have just been shat upon. But one thing bird poop makes you do is stop what you’re doing and look up for a second. So my friend and I, we both stopped being tearful and we looked up at the clear blue sky and we laughed to think that birds’ bowels might have a direct line to heaven. Maybe our dads wanted to send us a more palatable sign that all is well in the afterlife, but the only material that can navigate between Earth and the spiritual realm is bird shit. Maybe our dead loved ones have to debate every day whether they’re going to remain invisible or shower us in crap.
These are all Big Maybes. But you can’t deny that bird shit creates a moment. And our lives are made up of moments. And there’s a lot of shit in our lives, not all of it dive-bombing us, thank god, but omnipresent nonetheless.
My husband thinks it’s weird that my therapist was the one who first suggested to me that bird poop might carry a message. I was complaining to her about the slimy shit in my hair, and she said, “Didn’t your dad love birds?” Yes he did, and so do I.