I walked down the Highline Park once and became aware of this high, insistent birdsong. I followed the song and it led me to a bush, beside which sat a woman with silver hair and yellow teeth and dark hazelnuts for eyes. Her friend was a puffy-faced redhead with a checked scarf choking his neck. I followed the sound with my eyes; I was not the only one. A small group had gathered around the bush, around the woman and the checked scarf redhead, and were exchanging conversations like coins.
She seemed to know things. I scanned the bush. And then I saw the Mockingbird. It was a tiny little dusty greybrown thing, its throat swollen with new song, its eyes tiny blackhole beads sucking in the life around it. I looked at the yellow-teethed woman, her eyes bright under light streaks of violet eyeliner.
"Why is this bird doing this?" I asked her. I was convinced she’d know; I was convinced she’d really have an answer. She smiled at me and pulled strands of silver hair from her lips.
"Have you ever read Harper Lee’s book?"
“Of course,” I said. To Kill a Mockingbird. The Mockingbird chortled and screeched.
"She wrote about how the mockigbird will only come and sing to us sweetly. Now that you have seen the Mockingbird, perhaps you will know now that artists are the only ones who tell the Truth."
Her redhead friend turned to me.
“Life imitates art.”
Someone behind me whistled. The bird whistled back, and jumped from twig to fence link. It didn’t leave. It didn’t want to leave. I crooned. The Mockingbird crooned back.
"People think animals don’t have ways to entertain themselves," the woman said, giggling. "But they like to watch us."
I watched the Mockingbird and the Mockingbird watched me. I heard the world through the tiny grey bird, and then, when I’d had my fill, I took leave.