Sitting with a sightly corpse: editing anthropology in the company of death

 

Reproduced as scribbled into my notebook October 2010:

 

I went outside to sit at the wooden outdoor table and read over my writing for the day. I put down my bag and very nearly sat on a little dead bird.

 

It was a dead little bird.

 

It was a bright coloured finch with its feet in the air at an ever-slight angle. It was neither shocking nor unsightly, there were no scores of death nor open tangled wounds, it was just very much dead with its little eyes shut and its legs in the air.

 

It was a dead little bird with feathers
black with white spots,
dappled grey with white plume,
and under feathers of red, yellow and brown.

 

There wasn’t a garden bed in sight and I wasn’t going to drop a dead bird over the balcony and I have never been swept away in a flood nor lived through an earthquake so I just left the dead bird as was and sat down beside it.

 

A dead little bird with its legs in the air.

 

I rolled a cigarette and sipped my coffee and read through the draft of my chapter on the attribution of responsibility in various case studies looking at the way they implicate local understandings associated with emotion and morality. And in between reading and red-penning I glanced down at the sightly little corpse beside me.

 

And my sadness was the size of a dead little bird
with feathers black with white spots,
dappled grey with white plume,
and under feathers of red,
yellow… and brown.

 

 

That’s all.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Anthropology, General personal writings, Poetry turnstile, Thesis/Yolngu related writing

2 responses to “Sitting with a sightly corpse: editing anthropology in the company of death

  1. My Mum: “zat was really sad about the poor little birdy..”

  2. Marcoiac

    She is right. It’s quite touching the way you describe the whole thing

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