William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

The Stranger’s Tale

One day, when his fire was still a bundle of sticks, his water ice, and his last crust gone, the weary beggar met a little bird on the road. “Fair one,” said he, “how do you manage so well, you who travel with only a few seeds in your stomach?” From a frosty bare branch the little bird answered, “Long ago, I learned a secret from a very old and wise bird who lived high in the mountains.” The beggar followed the bird’s gaze to a snowy peak far in the distance. “Yes,” the bird continued, “I have been there.” And he told the beggar all about the adventure that befell him when he had become lost on the wind in a storm, and how surprised he had been when the storm suddenly ended and the sun had shone on the wise old bird’s home high above the valley and far from any city. Surrounded by nothing but ice and barren rock, and with not a tree to be seen, it seemed impossible that a bird could survive under such conditions — so impossible, in fact, that he thought the old bird must have been a vision. “When he told me that I was the vision, something in his voice and his manner made this seem not only reasonable, but impossible to deny. I have neither eaten nor hungered since that time, yet I live.” The beggar thought about this. He thought about the many years he had traveled about, always hoping to meet someone who would give him a piece of bread or a coin. Finally he said, “But just how, my friend, does one become a vision? It seems to me that for a vision to be a vision, it cannot have a body.” Once again, the bird turned his gaze toward the mountain peak. “The mountain is also a vision,” he replied. “So is the distance between.” The beggar scratched his head. “The wise old bird told you this?” “I am the wise old bird,” the little bird replied. “And so are you.” Then, without saying another word, not even good-bye, the little bird flew away. With so much to think about, the beggar forgot all about his hunger. He no longer felt cold. I am the one who found him, and buried his bones.

November 22, 2020


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Categories: New Poems & Pieces

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