What the caged bird sings
Posted on May 14th, 2013
here are cages being built in Peaches’ room. The first one was made out of paper; the second out of cardboard. At first glance, the airy white creation could have been a lantern, something built to let light out. I needed for her to explain to me that this box was intended to contain things instead, to lock them up on the inside.
Was it a bird cage? I wanted to know. It looked as if she had built it to scale.
Oh, no, she told me. It was for the zoo, the one she had assembled from every last diminutive stuffed or plastic animal earlier in the week. The one that had included the middle of a set of Russian stacking dolls as the bearded driver of a reclaimed toy tractor from somewhere, a few layers down in the heap.
But her kitten found the lovely, paper cage and made mischief with it, separating one bar from the next. It was no longer the enclosure Peaches had imagined. Stronger stuff was called for if this cage was going to keep anything out.
So by Sunday she had moved onto cardboard, painstakingly sawing through the spots where the space between the bars should appear. Monday morning, before 7, she was down in the kitchen, riffling the drawers in search of more tape with which to seal up the corners. She presented it to me before school this morning, the light shining of the packing tape she’d used to finish it (we’re totally going to need more of that), the door colored blue.
I am always hunting for what is just out of sight, the significance behind the latest creative constructs begin generated in the hearts and minds of my children. And while I do not see the world so much in terms of enclosures, boxes within which I imagine my escape or examine the quality of my detention, I am not an eight-year-old, waiting for my cast to come off, waiting for school to be out, peeking out through what contains me to the things that are just out of sight for me.∗