Two canaries fly into a trapeze manufacturing plant. One hops on a forklift and begins the arduous task of moving a mountain of crates. The other searches for a place to gather her thoughts.
The forklifting canary takes his time hauling the boxes, which have been languishing here for some time. Packed with horizontal bars, platforms, pedestal boards and synthetic rope, the crates should have been shipped years ago. But the plant closed without warning. The owners disappeared. The crates remained. It’s messed up the supply chain. In short: Trapeze artists have been going without.
By the light of the muskmelon moon, the canary chips away at the mountain. Soon, he develops a rhythm. Lift, move, drive, unload at the dock. Lift. Move. Drive. Unload. In a material handling fugue state, the canary sees it: a Ginkgo tree full of trapeze artists, those daring young ones out on a limb. Ready to fly even though they can’t fly. The canary breaks out of the trance. No way I’m letting them down, he thinks. “Not if it takes all night,” he says.
In a nearby nook, the other canary is soaking it all in. She’s been trying to write a thank-you note, but inspiration is needed and it doesn’t always come quickly. Sometimes it doesn’t come at all, as she well knows. It might take awhile on this moonlit night, but it’ll come, the canary tells herself.
The dark and the light of abandonment have always creeped her out, and the dry-ice fog feeling in this funky factory is no exception. But she’s cheered by the work of the other writers who’ve wrestled with this fog before her. The canary drinks in the words they’ve spray-painted on the factory walls: Clapton is God … Cuba Sí, Nixon No … hold the pickles hold the lettuce special orders don’t upset us all we ask is that you let us have it your way.
The canary closes her eyes, words and images tumble-drying behind them. As they spin and cycle through, her tiny heart swirls. The canary surprises herself with a gasp of a chirp. “I’m ready,” she says, picking up the vintage linen postcard she’d selected weeks ago for this moment. Greetings from La Dolce Pantomime, the card says. The canary breathes in, breathes out and digs down deep. In scrawled letters that sing the Delta blues, she writes:
Dear trapeze artists who are trying to do their thing in this dissociative age:
Thank you for working without a net.
No one is as brave as you.
We love you.
She addresses the postcard (Every Trapeze Artist in the World, Box 27, Gleaming Crucifix, NM) and affixes the appropriate postage.
“Hey Mr. Forklifter,” she shouts. “Just about done?”
He can’t hear her. He’s down at the dock, where he’s finished making his last run. The freighter’s here, ready to ship this stuff to assembly facilities rumored to be reopening in Kingston, Kensington and Kilimanjaro.
The canary flits and flutters to the top of the crates. From his crow’s nest, he looks out over the waveless water. His heart’s on a trampoline and his soul is on ice. In the still of the rising sun, the canary whips out his cell to capture the moment.
“Keep on flying, my brothers,” he says.