This article is taken from Stand 238, 21(2) July - September 2023.

Elinora Westfall The Bird Woman & The Silent Minority
The footsteps hurried closer, quicker, then slower again, then quicker still, and Clementine sat and watched, but all she saw was the grass moving this way and that, as though the wind was blowing but it could not decide in which direction to blow.

Now this way, now that, a furrow of flattered grass creeping nearer, and nearer, and ‘Oh, dear,’ sighed Clementine, certain that she was probably about to be eaten by something invisible, which, she decided as the footsteps stopped in front of her, might be preferable, because if she was inside the stomach of something invisible, then she too would be invisible and that in itself might be a relief.

But, instead, the footsteps moved around her, slowly, this time, far slower than they had been until they had formed a complete circle and stopped in front of her.

‘Hello?’ she said, to the air itself, and then, when no reply came, she ventured, ‘I’m Clementine,’ because surely she couldn’t upset anyone with her name alone, and then, because she simply had to know her fate, and asking directly seemed the best way of obtaining this knowledge, she asked, ‘are you going to eat me?’

But the moment she asked, right where there had been nothing but the flattened grass before, now there was a bird, standing on legs like twigs with a big black beak and gloss-black feathers.

She sat up, straighter, leaned forward and asked, ‘you’re a bird, aren’t you?’ because she ...
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