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The Globe Reports: "A Lover of Pigeons, a Hidden Past," or Take the Money and Run

Juliana Roth

What does the eye see in the man feeding park pigeons? Imagine shit-stained coveralls, grey-stranded body perfect for nesting. My mother told me to be shit on by a bird meant good luck in the same breath as learning her golden hair was once a landing spot. In Boston, John Kidd qualified to edit Ulysses after making 5,000 adjustments to current circulations. He wished for original patterns to be preserved. What hurt Kidd most was an editor’s assertion that “the word known to all men” was “love.” An oversized period intended by Joyce went missing Earthmound, portal door, godly entrance—where have you gone? Kidd spent his mornings searchingwith birdseed and symbols, perching in Marsh Plaza among the pigeons. Maybe Kidd thought love was presumed in silence and absence and what angered him was that the editor thought love was identifiable. Did Kidd know Tesla also loved a bird? “As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life,” he said of the pigeon he nursed in a hotel room. Compassion might be brief like this, like a finger extended between bites of baloney on rye. Cities too have loveda bird. New York dimmed high-rises so migrating birds could interpret the light. Bird flight is guided by photoclock. You can’t undo the deeplywritten. Kidd must have known Joyce believed errors were proof of magic.

Broodless, a Hawaiian-shirted migrator, Kidd hides in a Brazilian cubiclelearning Portuguese to translate a novel about an enslaved girl using a handmade English dictionary. Birds are also named for their colonizers. Who claimed the white-rumped sandpiper? Called peeps like yellow grained marshmallows they breed in mudflats and northern grassy tundra. They too fly south to Rio. Long-billed to pick apart tiny things, probe the shallow waters. A researcher unearthing a new disease in sandpipers called discovery“a stroke of luck.” The virus could kill poultry chickens before farmers. Is luck then the result of chance and does chance compose fortune? Kidd liked to show reporters his on bank account slips, proof he was a valued madness, wanting his balances published bird-riddled as though this were a language readers could better understand. Tesla craved all energy to operate together in the universe. Perhaps that’s why to woundedbirds went his hand.

call to beg and warn

vocal rattles, earnest tease

see, birdsong repeats

Juliana Roth is the creator of the narrative web series, The University, which won Best Web/Pilot at the Los Angeles Film Awards, was a finalist for Best Pilot with the Vancouver Independent Film Festival, and nominated by the International Academy of Web Television for Best Drama Writing. Currently, she teaches writing at NYU and The School of the New York Times. She writes the newsletter Drawing Animals and serves as an Emerging Writer Fellow at the Center for Fiction.

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