I HAVE A BLUE JAY
By: Christina J. Johns

I have a blue jay. My own personal blue jay, or at least that's how it feels.

Every day he comes looking for the special treats I leave out for him. He lights on the arm or the back of the wrought iron chair that sits right outside my study window and cocks his head to one side and then he other - peering in at me - wondering why I'm leaving presents just for him. First I left him bird seed, then bird seed soaked in water, then a bowl of bread crumbs, then banana bread, a crumbled up fortune cookie, sour dough bread crumbs, and finally a granola bar. He liked all of them.

He's a young jay, one of the Jay Family children born this Spring and he doesn't know yet to stay as far away from people as he can get.

He's still young enough to be terribly curious about me sitting on the other side of the window in front of my computer.

Sometimes, when it's cool enough, I leave the window open so we can gaze at each other without the barrier of the glass between us. He looks at me and I look at him and we take the measure of each other across the chasm of species.

I know he won't always be this way. He'll learn as he gets older to be very wary of human beings. He'll be better off that way, I suppose, safer from potential harm. But I'll miss him.

It all reminds me of a child I once saw in a car in Montgomery, Alabama. I have a van and so I could easily see down into the car stopped next to me at a traffic light. There was a baby in the back seat, strapped in car crib.

When he saw me looking at him, he flashed me the most dazzling smile of pure pleasure and began waving his hands and kicking his feet. I laughed in sheer delight at the beauty and purity of his pleasure.

I knew, though, he wouldn't always be that way. He was black and I was white and as he grew older he would most likely learn to be very wary of white people. Even after all these years of struggling for racial equality and tolerance, many black children learn early on to associate white people with insult and painful experiences.

In probably less than a year, I'd be willing to bet that he'd never smile that openly or spontaneously at a white person again.

He'll be better off that way, I suppose, safer from potential harm, but I'll miss him just the same.


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