Decades ago, carcasses rode high. Perched, poised and stuffed, they were trapped beneath silk netting and created a coy diorama above the ladies' hats, the large hats, the fearsome hats.
Birds, glass-eyed and full of straw, were arranged by diabolical milliners into a frozen mockery of flight – no longer enticed by the breezes that curled and tickled.
Feathers were pinned to the monstrous brims that hid the ladies from a sky grown increasingly empty and silent. Torn from back and wings, plucked from breasts and tails, they were anchored by jewels: copper-veined turquoise, milky jade, rubies that fumed like dragons' eyes. The feathers were no longer warm with nature's delicate tints; they were dyed in shameless, brazen colors, wrapped around a prostitute's beckoning finger.
But time has passed, and since then birds have flown before the reach of fashion's degradation. They look back from the safety of a less profligate world to one of dissolute plundering, when bodies fell from the sky in a black rain.
The ones I saw wouldn't be so bold if their chaste plumage was still sought in the cause of dishonored decoration:
They probably have no recollection of their ancestors, pinned like halted butterflies; inert ships sailing above the heads of their mistresses. Their DNA is crowded with migratory itineraries, flight maps, astronomical charts, longitudes and latitudes traced across an unknowable planet – no doubt there is little room for any remorse for those whose travels were arrested so long ago.