A lifeless bird
is a sorrow all its own. Many creatures in death may move us, but
the particular tragedy of the bird is that its nature is to fly, to
be in motion and of the air. And in death it is still, profoundly
still, and forever fettered to the earth, like any other beast.
And yet Moore has framed them
with such care, in displays of such beauty and elegance, as to rescue
them from their desiccated state and, if not restore their former
splendor, at least pay tribute to it. Most of the tiny skeletons are
laid on rich fabric and showered with and surrounded by dozens, even
hundreds, of colored, pearllike beads no larger than a bird's eye.
A couple are nestled inside the drawers of specially made and decorated
standing chests, which you may pull open to see the dead birds lying
in great beds of salt, like tree limbs in a snowdrift. Several others
rest under Plexiglas boxes atop wooden tables just a couple of feet
high. That these displays are so clearly handcrafted and put together
with so much apparent feeling makes them seem personal, as if the
fallen animal was known truly and well by the maker, as if these were
birds with names.
It is the same in box after
box, drawer after drawer, accounts of bloodshed and carnage and loss
of life. Suddenly, it isn't only the birds that are fragile but ourselves;
it isn't just these beautiful, innocent creatures of the air we are
mourning but a host of other beautiful innocents whose lives have
been ripped away and who lie still, profoundly still, forever fettered
to the earth half a world away. We close the drawers, and a weight
falls, a deep sorrow settles in, not as the result of some aggressive
political statement, some loud condemnation of the current war, but
because a connection has been made by Moore and felt by us: life threaded
to life, each one so delicate, so vulnerable, so precious. Hers is
but a gesture made in appreciation of flight, in memory of life, and
it is exquisitely moving.