versions of the recent hecatomb of the birds are offered: the first,
mass suicide; the second, a sudden thinning of the atmosphere.
first version is indefensible: For all the birds, from condor to hummingbird,
to take flight (with the consequent variations in altitude) at the same
(high noon) would require one of two possibilities: either they were
some command, or they had made up their minds to soar in the air in
to dash themselves to the ground. The most basic logic tells us that
incapable of executing such commands. As for the birds, to endow them
reason is to make folly of reason itself. The second version must likewise
rejected: If the atmosphere had been thinned, only the birds that flew
moment would have died.
remains a third version, so fallacious that it cannot withstand analysis:
an epidemic virus, of unknown origin, made the birds heavier than air.
version is ineffable, and any act is tangible. In the scholiast resides
that forever aspires to the demiurge. His pride is punished with tautology.
way to escape the ineluctable fact of the mass death of the birds would
be to imagine
that we had conjured up the hecatomb in a dream. But in that case it
could not be
interpreted, since it would not be a true dream. All that remains is
fact. With our eyes we see them strewn over the earth. More than the
slaughter itself produces in us, we are filled with fright by the impossibility
discovering an explanation for such a monstrous fact. Our feet tangle
wretched plumage of so many millions of birds. Suddenly, like a crackling
they all rise up in flight. The fiction of the writer, erasing the deed,
returns them to
life. And only with the death of literature will they fall again wretched
onto the earth.
By Virgilio Piñera,
from Cold Tales, copyright © 1987 by Estela Piñera
Translation copyright © 1987 by Thomas Christensen