Food for the Birds
By Janet Brice Parker

It was late afternoon. No glorious sunset to watch from our folding chairs. The sky, sea and damp sand glistened, and were coated with shades of gray and brown.

The girl caught sight of me as I furiously snapped pictures of her. She wore faded, cropped overalls that blended with the colors of the day. She threw pieces of bread upward, to be gratefully caught by flapping, squealing seagulls. They surrounded her and sounded as if they could have lifted her small body to the sky. She ran excitedly toward me and asked, “Are you a photographer?” “No, I replied. I’m a painter. I might paint your picture with the birds. Would you like that?” “Yeah!” was her childish response. “My cousin was an artist,” she offered. “Oh, really? Does he still paint?” “He died. We’re having the ‘awakening’ tonight. Nobody wants to look at the paintings. It makes them sad. They’re all put away. He was eighteen.” “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.” “That’s ok,” she called out as she ran hastily back to her recreation. The child’s hair blew into and out of her face as she threw bread to the sky. When dark came, we folded our chairs and headed for the room. The girl’s overalls were wet at the bottom, forming a blurry pattern of deep indigo. Her family called her name and the seagulls fluttered off in search of food from another source.

I painted the picture, and as I worked into the wet, dry, rough watercolor paper, I wondered. What could have happened to a young artist? Was he lonely, depressed? Did he suffer from the malady known to creative people? An illness, an accident? I gaze upon the finished piece, tastefully matted and framed and step back to look at the recreated scene. Luxurious rich pigment allowed for “artistic license.” It is sunset. Golden hues touch the girl’s clothing and hair. The water is Prussian Blue, Winsor Green and Purple Madder. Seagulls are splashed with the sun’s setting rays. Color bounces everywhere. And the gray day of death is gone.

Janet Brice Parker's interest in writing began at a young age. She was influenced by her father's "silly rhymes" and her grandmother's published memoirs. Janet has been published by KOTA PRESS, LUCIDITY poetry journal, Houston, Texas, TROUVERE COMPANY WRITER'S GAZETTE, THE BLOUNT COUNTIAN newspaper and THE COCONUT TELEGRAPH. She is working on her first book of short stories. Janet has been a professional artist for thirty five years. She lives in Decatur, Alabama with her husband, Eddie.


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