Saturday, February 20, 2010
Only A Pigeon
We recently acquired, Only a Pigeon, by Jane Kurtz. It is a story of an Ethiopian boy and his bird. The watercolor illustrations bring to life the streets of towns made familiar on our drive through the land of my son’s birth. The other night the big kids and I sank our weight into the worn and splitting cushions of our couch, covered our toes with special blankies and read the book together for the first time. “In Ethiopia, a land of ancient churches and castles” it began. Sis gasped. Mister grinned. “This book is about ‘Opia!”
They were like stones resting against my ribs, soaking up the story and the watercolors with silent reverence, broken periodically by astute, old-soul observations. “That lady is in my special book!” Mister pointed to the white-shawled figure in the distance on page two. I have read repeatedly that adopted children often feel driven in an endless, primal search for their birth relatives. The ‘How-To’ manuals mention this as explanation and defense against the hurt feelings of the adoptive parents. And in my heart I understand the insatiable desire for biological connectivity. I, too, look for representations of myself in the wider world. I, too, want to be connected in ways unexplainable by obligation.
He found her. Immediately. In the background of the second page. He recognized the ceremonial white shawl from our only photo. “That does like her, doesn’t it?” I affirmed. And we kept reading. He also noticed that the cobblestone wall on page six looked distinctly like a crocodile. In fact, I finally had to turn the page after lengthy speculation on the part of my wee scientist as to why “dat man” was sitting on a sleeping Croc.
As I was closing the book, Mister sighed contentedly and asked to look at his special book. We poured over the pictures together, taking turns telling the story. We talked about trees and Haile Gebrselassie. We spoke again the names of important people and discussed the process of hand-roasting coffee beans. It was only a pigeon. But it gave us one more chance to talk about our life and looped one more thread through the patchwork we’ve been stitching together.