Heartwarming story about bird shit

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.

23 Thoughts on “Heartwarming story about bird shit

  1. Alice on April 15, 2010 at 2:03 pm said:

    My god, am I crying over bird shit? Maybe I am.

    I wish you could get your dad’s bird call ID iPhone app turned into a bird poo ID app: is this one unlucky? A message from above? Or just gravity and circumstance? I wish a lot of things for you, but most of them are too big and November. A big wish, a small wish, a shitty wish. I love you.

  2. christos on April 15, 2010 at 2:14 pm said:

    i think your therapist is on to something… <3 great story! xoxo

  3. It’s a shame they already gave out the Pulitzer’s. A damn shame. That you manage to make such a quick short piece like this simultaneously heartbreaking, evocative, universal, deeply personal, and hilarious is breathtaking. I’m stunned- by the picture, by the essay, everything. This is JUST as good if not worlds better than anything the New York Times has on it’s blogs (the only other blogs with which I’m familiar. I’d say it could go elsewhere, but there’s something about your use of links to the picture and article, that is both judicious and effective)- it creates a running non-fiction narrative, and is precisely what people should look to when they say there’s serious merit in online writing.

  4. Fan o' you on April 15, 2010 at 3:29 pm said:

    You’re so smart and cool. I love your writing. XOX

  5. Alice on April 15, 2010 at 3:58 pm said:

    I’m with Bill. This is a hundred times better than any Modern Love column I’ve read.

  6. Amy Y. on April 15, 2010 at 4:51 pm said:

    Hi Wistar.
    Big fan of the blog, and a legendary lurker here. This is a fabulous post. I really do believe that bird shit, albeit demeaning at first, may actually hold a deeper purpose here. At least, after this post, I am willing to believe in the more cosmic and philosophic meanings of avian feces. Keep up the blogging and the healing. It really is what any loved person would want from their relatives. You have lit a fabulous candle, and it is great to see that you are tending it accordingly.

  7. Amy Y. on April 15, 2010 at 7:11 pm said:

    Ok.That last post was indescribably sappy, but you know what I mean, and you are probably sober.

  8. Amy Y. on April 15, 2010 at 7:11 pm said:

    By post I meant my comments, not yours. Oh God, I am going back to stalking Charlie Sheen.

  9. I am not sober. And I am incredibly bad at responding to compliments. But I am touched, and unsobered, by all these sweet blog comments. Also, I saw a bunch of white flower petals lying in a gutter tonight, and I need to tell some people. I would tell Charlie Sheen if he wasn’t in disguise.

  10. Thanks Wistar. It’s beautiful

  11. Hi Wistar. 🙂 Even though you wrote your blog on a piece of paper at our housewarming part so (SO, SO!) long ago, I lost that paper until I cleaned tonight.

    Just wanted to say hi and I love your blog’s design. See you soon? 🙂

  12. Hi Wistar,

    Your dad and I were friends…a long time ago. It was a time when we were always on vacation. When 3 or 4 years made me seem much older. ..when taking me home meant going to your grandparents home. …before our world knew about Lang. Once in his apartment,in Hartford, I heard of Lang.

    I saw him last at your home. We, my 4 children, my wife, and I stayed in the guest house. I met Lang, and either saw your picture or said hi as you came and went. We were training around at the time. Thank you for telling me about the ladders by the pool filters. I smiled at my friend again. I am so sorry your heart has been ripped out. None of us really understand until it happens to us. ..even though it happens daily to someone. You are right. Friends are like little rafts when they come near.


  13. Robin from Looziana on April 22, 2010 at 10:01 am said:

    Wistar. I don’t have the words. You have a gift.


  14. Cathy Harding on April 22, 2010 at 2:29 pm said:

    Practice random acts of acceptance. Practice deliberate acts of acceptance. Accept things as they are. And please accept this praise: You are a gifted writer, and your dad lived a very full life to have brought such a daughter as you into this world.

  15. this is rubbish. i am looking for a heart warming story and all you can talk about it bird crap.

  16. This piece about birds made me laugh out loud twice and also I just kept chuckling. You may not believe old Ez’ theory that art is more important than medicine because art reveals the human soul, but very few people can write an apparently artless story as funny as this one. thank you. X

  17. nora white on May 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm said:

    yup. tears flowing over bird shit. your piece about shit took my mind off my worries and sorrows today. (yoda accent here:) perfectly balanced it is, between dark and light.

    your writing style and content choice makes me want to hire you to edit my shit.

    i’m typing up my journals from when i was ten until now, 44, so you can imagine how much shit i need to be dropped out. your style is real, it’s visual as hell, and you most likely are as brilliant a human fucking being as miss margo, your cousin, who like a bird, flew me to your blog. thank god, or some mother bird, whatever, that connected me to your work. keep going. it helps us all laugh a little at ourselves, and that, is revolutionary if you ask me.

    if you wanna shoot the shit, just drop me a line or call me at 505-266-0852.
    oh yeah, i’m cash poor now, buttt have no doubts that when i’m ready, i’ll have the funds for a bad ass like you!!!

  18. Anonymous on May 28, 2010 at 11:45 am said:

    I found you after having the ingenious idea to googlo “meaning if birdshit”. This, after seeing my always clean door 2 days ago suddenly COVERD in quantities of the annoying yet somehow comical substance! I have been going through profound changes losses and spiritual growth a while now. I have decided there was a message for me in the shti and a positive one! Lol! Your story made me chuckle and that in itself is a blessing! I feel and choose to feel the bird droppings bring a message oh WEALTH and positive abundance! Why not? I too am greiving much, and even for people still alive yet astranged. Good luck with your healing and blessings from one pooped upon in Norway! Ellie

  19. Ellie on May 28, 2010 at 11:47 am said:

    For the above message!

  20. Gwenn Aspen on June 21, 2010 at 8:54 am said:

    Hello Wistar,
    I found your blog while looking up my family history. We must be related as my Middle name is Wistar, and I think my great grandmother was a Watts. Anyway I can’t wait to read your blog, but I just wanted to say hi, we might be long lost cousins, 5 times removed or something.

  21. Dear Gwenn,

    Thanks for saying hello. We must be related – no one but family seems to claim a name like Wistar. My great grandmother was a Watts as well. She lived in Lynchburg, Virginia. We should definitely get in touch about the family tree. I might have some resources to share with you. Email me anytime at onestarwatt at gmail dot com.

    Your cousin or evil stepsister or whatever,


  22. Johnb907 on May 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm said:

    Great blog! I am loving it!! Will come back again. I am taking your feeds also ckbaeffgdcgd

  23. thank u for sharing ur story!! today as i was leaving a funeral for my cousin who passed, i had just walked out of the building and was telling my other cousins goodbye while walking to my car and i felt a heavy thump on my head .. i thought it was a big rain drop as it was starting to drizzle but then i touched my head and realized it was bird poop … lol i am pretty intrigued as to why the FIRST time ever that a bird pooped on me is right after i walked out .. it feels to me like it was a sign or message from my cousin but i don’t see many stories similar to mine except this one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation