Crow Windows : An Addendum

On Thursday I remarked that it was hard to imagine a window made out of crows. Not for the first time, I was wrong – astonishingly so, given that ornithology is involved. But wrong nonetheless, as this letter from Poppy Nisbet makes clear. It plopped through the post all the way from the eastern United States:

In the long ago I occasionally worked on local theatrical extravaganzas, my favorite being “Zeitgeist”, an excruciating interpretation of Human Life from beginning to end. We, the perpetrators of this cultural maelstrom, took over the very small town hall in a very small town nearby. The building had a central front door and hallway flanked by two minuscule offices and leading to a large open room with a stage at the far end. As a preface to the main event onstage we made the offices into a birth room and a death room. It is the death room that requires description.

The house I now live in had belonged to artists for a long time and the higgledy-piggledy remains of their art lives were still in the barn studio when I moved here. One of the artists was a portrait painter of subjects who all looked like characters from Agatha Christie. The studio was overflowing with petrified tubes of oil paint, bristle-free brushes, canvas stretchers, human bones, broken glass and empty frames, my favorite relics being paintings with the faces cut out and the rest of the image left intact. As a backdrop for the death room these edited portraits were hung on the walls above dead leaves piled high, so deep that people could only wade through them with difficulty. The resultant noise was full of memories.

The room had a dilemma that demanded solving, a large window facing the parking lot. We felt that the evening trajectories of headlights would spoil the mood on the night of the performance so we cut silhouettes of flying crows out of a piece of black foam-core board and fitted it over the glass. A sheer curtain was hung over this on the inside, making the window amendments invisible in the general murk.

The headlights swept through the birds like a fog beacon, flaring up for a moment and projecting distorted avian outlines onto the folds of the curtain and the floating dust of the leaves. It left a surging impression of flight that was surprisingly spooky. Even now, whenever I see crows I remember the motion of light in black bird shapes filling up a window.

2 thoughts on “Crow Windows : An Addendum

  1. I am sure many readers will share my wish to know if Ms Nisbet, Ms Nisbet, was able to vouchsafe any news about her progress, or otherwise, toward publication of the putative volume of stories about derangements catalysed by water-biscuits?

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