Today I walked into a pet store, my boyfriend smoking on the sidewalk, not to buy anything, everything about my life these days screams out the fact that I can’t have any more life to take care of, that I can’t remember to feed any more mouths than mine and his and the sometimes nights when I feel together enough to bring some kind and lovely people into my temporary house for roast chicken and other people’s booze, that for me right now it’s petting other people’s funny dogs and trying not to think of how the mean dog I finally got to come around to loving me is going to feel when one day I just don’t come home because I’m flying thousands of miles away, because how do you tell a dog “I love you, I love you, I will come scratch your funny grapefruit head in six or seven months, please don’t be sad” because dogs don’t speak english or anything else I could learn with an app, so I try not to think about it, or how maybe I like to be alone too much for any animal, maybe for people too, because I’m an animal too.

Inside the store, past the lizards I had talked to through the storefront windows, and past the first initial wave of pet store scent knocking at my face, past the doves and little singing birds, straight ahead and hanging at a strange angle, holding to the bars with its mouth except when it let go to cry out with shocking volume, a bird, one of those big ones, one of those huge birds that look like they will live forever, that they belong in a jungle some time long after we’re all dead, like they can speak a thousand languages but will only look at us and scream, the tongue like some small animal of its own inside the cave of the beak, full of cracks but so strong it could snap your fingers in two, and the cage was not much taller than the bird, and perhaps not wider than it was tall, and in that moment my humanness was a sin worth punishment, an unkindness to beg forgiveness for, a mark on my soul, a crime, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I talked to it quietly and I knew there was nothing I could do, because it looked at me and called out to me like it knew I wanted to free it, but birds don’t know about capitalism, birds don’t know that I am poor because birds don’t know what that means, birds don’t know that I have made some choices for the sake of freedom or the sake of health that are also choices that detract from my freedom and from my health, and because I do not have the money I do not have the bird’s cage, empty, in my front yard, which also does not belong to me, and also I wonder if letting a bird like that loose in the skies of Los Angeles would even be to its benefit, I do not know the predators of sprawling urban California, or rather I think perhaps I do but not the kinds that are relevant to gigantic and beautiful birds, but rather those of broken midwestern almost-still-youths who sometimes cry into their cigarette butts for reasons that are too complicated to ask a pet store owner about with my broken Spanish, but I suspect that even if a coyote or a condor or an airplane were to catch it, it would be worth it for that bird to soar over the 5 and over the river and over the buildings and over the parks and perhaps to the ocean and into the sunset.

It had eyes just like a crying man.