My dog killed a bird yesterday, maybe. I went to get the mail outside. Walking back to the house, I found my dog in the yard with something in her mouth. I screamed, told her to put it down. It was a tiny bird – a house wren I think. Its mouth was moving – opening and closing. I freaked out. Ran into the house, not knowing what to do. When I got back outside, its mouth ceased moving. It was still.
I dug it a grave in the flower garden with a hand shovel. I picked it up. It was so small, so light, so fragile. Its head flopped from side to side, its neck was broken.
I laid it down in the shallow garden grave. I covered it, started to cry.
The day after, today, I revisit the event. I have been told that I make everything that happens to me into a metaphor. This seems contradictory to my larger project of divorcing illness and disability from the metaphors they have historically been attached to (I follow Susan Sontag and her work that does the same – see her Illness as Metaphor). So, why do I see this event metaphorically? And, why, as I have been told, do I see all life-events metaphorically?
George Lakoff and Mark Johnson argue in their book Metaphors We Live By that we use metaphors to structure our understanding of the world. So then, can we ever divorce illness from the metaphors we have historically ascribed to it? Can the dead bird that I buried in my yard ever be experienced as a pure event, separate from the metaphors I attach to it – metaphors I create about its life that connect to mine?