As this is a monologue and takes place in a vague space that changes with Jeanie’s mental space, there are no props or set pieces. The lighting should be sparse, mostly dark with a spot on Jeanie as she walks, except where noted otherwise. If desired, however, a screen could be placed upstage center behind Jeanie as she talks, and I have noted ideas for images that might play on the screen to add visual dynamic. It is noted as optional because it is merely added effect and is easily removed.
on my left hand
but now I don’t know how to make it stop.
because it made holding a pencil difficult
and I don’t have time to wait for it to subside because images are fleeting,
you know? Birds fly away.
because the throbbing is distracting and
when you’re holding binoculars for hours on end it can get painful.
And if you drop the binoculars at that crucial moment
when you’ve got the beautiful plumage in crisp
it’s a moment that slips and breaks away and is lost forever.
if I can even call myself that yet.
I feel like I am on the cusp,
the tween of the birding world:
more serious than a bird-watcher but not quite accepted into that society, you know?
the community invested in the winged and the feathery,
who gather in the dense woods and
line up at the edge of the sounding sea .
I’m not exactly there yet.
Not that it matters much to me,
Lately I haven’t been one for societies.
listening to me whine
(that’s the nature of the hypochondriac, and I’ve been one all my life):
People as a whole tend to have this horrible habit
of just letting you down.
and I would thank her for it
if she hadn’t punched my nose in,
“doing me a favor because it was too Jewish before,”
outside the girls’ locker room,
which I remember because my blood got on the lockers
and I had to clean it up.
she had smiled at me in the hallway,
said “Hello, Jeanie,”
under the watchful gaze of the hallway monitor;
but that’s how people are. Just when
you think you’ve reached solid ground
they shove your little dingy off into
the crashing waves again.
as I slept
and make sure that I could breathe properly,
make sure that the white bandage and purple swelling
didn’t constrict my breathing.
That night I first looked out of my window
at the deceptively calm night
and guess what I saw?
For a fleeting second, I saw it flit past,
dive to the ground, out of view, in chase of some bug.
Such a little bird, but such incredible speed.
Then I heard the characteristic boom,
the sound of its wings pulling it out of that dive
and I had no idea what it was, so I looked it up
in an anthology we had lying around, luckily for me.
but in my excitement I don’t think I even knew I was bleeding.
though it took me many more years to return to that calling
because as a young child I hadn’t lost that adorable innocence.
Todd Woolsey saw to that. Todd Woolsey, with the beautiful blue eyes,
and the winsome smile, and the toned arms,
and the deep tan, and the meaty hands
that wrapped around my wrists,
and the slightly crooked Cupid’s bow
that turned up in a sneer when he called me ‘bitch’.
the petty days of high school. I thought all that
was behind me but the word still stung,
smarted in my embarrassed cheeks.
I don’t think I cried that night
after he allowed me to leave his car
after stealing a kiss I didn’t want to give.
that supported my faith in people. I was deconstructing
the logic I used to continue deluding myself into trusting
these people that only tried to hurt me.
I looked out my window again,
at the cloudy moon, obscured by the leafy branches of an oak tree,
and stared right into the lunar gaze of a Great Gray Owl.
Sightings do happen, but I think I was meant to see him that night.
He gave a hoo, the most beautiful, haunting sound you ever heard;
it’s true, I remember it.
And then he flew away, and his wings were massive.
bought a pair of cheap binoculars and a book on birds.
It was just a hobby then,
a weekend thing when I didn’t feel like reading.
the strangers who stare at me on the street
because of the binoculars swinging from my hips
and my frizzy hair
I know what I really want! I’m going to be the best
birder you’ve ever heard of.
If you can’t impress them, beat them.
just a little digital thing, but I can’t always get the birds
on paper quickly enough.
I’m going to learn all of the birdcalls. Just listen;
Did you catch that?
It was the common barn owl! I bet you’d have recognized it if you lived in the country.
I’m going to learn how to do even more,
and then when I flip through my sketchbook and
see all the beautiful birds I’ve seen,
I’ll also be able to remember how they sounded.
all by myself, just me and my sketchbook, and my binoculars,
and of course, all of the avian wonders that await me.
I’ll sit by a tree in a folding chair-
or maybe just on the ground! Who cares?
And I’ll stare up and up with my magnified vision,
catch the sound of flapping wings and low whistles.
And I’ll fill up my sketchbook with those birds,
flying and perching and swooping and calling;
it’ll be bliss.
I don’t need people to do it.
I’ll be on my own, independent,
happy in my own right.
their lies and
their petty grievances and
grudges. Always begrudging me for one thing,
if not another.
I’m done with that.
It seems daunting now,
that dark forest and the seclusion.
But I know when I get there I’ll feel different.
I know the magic will come back
and the birds will take me under their wings.
watch the misty mornings turn to golden afternoons,
and even the night will be no obstacle
because I’ll have friends in the wise gaze of the owls
and the plunging nighthawks. We’ll dance.
No one will miss me. And I won’t miss anyone either.
My parents, shriveling away in that
cage of a retirement community;
they won’t even notice I’m gone.
I wanted to go to Colorado Springs
and stake out a spot on the central flyway?
“You’re an adult now,” they said,
“Do something useful with your life.”
whining about the temperature?
The highlight of their week is when
they venture outside and take an assisted
dip in the pool.
I don’t have friends. I don’t need them, either.
I like to think that the woman at the bookstore,
Ellen, I think her name was,
will miss me a little bit. I think she knew me
as the crazy bird lady. Better birds than cats.
But that’s no friend.
Don’t make me laugh. That ship sailed long ago.
But I’m not bitter.
I have the birds,
and my graphite,
and the feel of binoculars banging on my thigh,
and my sun-dappled forest.
complete separation from that noisy,
abrasive, grueling company
tying me here to society. I can’t get away from it.
but I only got hits for arthritis.
I’m not that old, yet.
There’s no room in the forest
for my birds and my binoculars
and this throbbing.
He’ll have to fix this. Or I’m finished.
He has to save me.
And then set me free,
let me grow wings and fly to
the one thing I want:
to be alone in the forest
with the booming nighthawks.