BELLA LACK'S CONTRIBUTION TO THE
RED 67 – RED-LIST BOOK
Yodelling like a cowboy, the melody undulates from the tight, peach bill.
Waves of tune that engulf and invigorate. Yet even a melody so bold and brilliant doesn’t disclose the location of the Oriole. Leaves tremble. Wind or wing? A flash of yellow. Buttercup or bird? Tune diminishes. Silence.
The clear, cool air is sliced once again by a shard of melody that grows and unfurls unbidden. It rises and falls in waves; an aural rocking chair. Once again I peer through fern and thistle, craning and stretching, squinting and squinching. In that moment, I would do anything to see the slender oriole slipping through the foliage. I would burst at the sight of the verdancy being broken by an explosion of buttercup-yellow and jet black.
Then, in a heart-shattering, breath-snatching moment I glimpse him. His melodious fluting seems to swell, balloon-like, and fill every crack and crevice until every ounce of me is ringing in tune, until every sense is trembling with anticipation. I am astounded by his grace. His blue-grey legs seem to propel him from twig to twig with an unparalleled athleticism. Then, the finale. Those slender yet deep maroon eyes seem almost to focus on me. They narrow and widen. Bird and girl. We are two, yet we are alike. Our hearts both pound as we watch each other, our gazes both narrow and our breath quickens. Then he plucks a blade from the earth and returns home. He is a grass weaver, an artist, a soon-to-be-father. He is an avian angel and an unashamed soloist. He is bold and yet he is threatened.
Seeing a Golden Oriole? Perhaps it will never be. Perhaps not for me.
That imagined sighting is all I have to grasp onto. I fold it up tightly in my mind and hold onto it, like a warm penny in a fist. It is a thought so golden and sweet, like the glorious fluting of an Oriole. Yet it is remote and distant, like the plains of Africa where the Oriole resides during the chilled Winter months. Maybe one day the land will once again echo with the elusive whistling of this glorious bird. Maybe one day I will have children and they will not have to watch, like I do, as the Golden Oriole slips down the ranks until it silently slips into oblivion, never to sing again.