Samantha Bieth


As gently as I can, 
I force my half-frozen fingers 
to brush away the small, sleek feathers
from the finely tangled net 
running in convolute loops around
the thin, squirming leg of 
the bird in my palm. 

No longer is he gleefully chirping 
his “hey sweetie” melody. 
Instead, he nips desperately 
at what I can only imagine 
is a most disgusting flavor 
of latex covering my hands. 

We catch them this way 
to study them, our desire 
to know more unencumbered 
by the technicalities of ethics. 
Even the bitter December cold
cannot argue with scientific progress. 

The chickadee wriggles in my grasp,
not quite understanding the purpose
of my firm grip around its body. 
I can feel its heart beating softly 
in its feathered chest, 
growing faster with time. 

What is he thinking 
as my fingers, like icicles, hold him
stationary, a prisoner? 
Am I pulling on the small, fragile
feathers of his back? 
Am I squeezing just a little bit
too tightly? 

Is he questioning whether his bones
will splinter before he touches 
the air once more with his wings? 
Do I appear a predator,
the copper twinge of blood 
already staining my innocent teeth? 

In this way, 
am I too vicious about my studies,
my thirst for knowledge? 
If a giant were to stumble 
across me humbly performing my daily tasks, 
would I appreciate 
the obstruction of my freedom? 

I slowly peel my frigid fingers 
away from the feathered frame 
of the bird’s body. 
He flaps his wings as if blinking awake
after a nap 
and soars upward, out of sight.

Now, he is free 
and I am left to wonder 
whether his life will continue 
as it was, unfazed by the sudden
loss of autonomy. 

Would I remain the same 
after being unexpectedly 
snatched from normalcy? 
Would the resulting conversation
with the psychologist 
not prove there was damage done? 

My unanswerable questions 
prove fruitless, and science marches
forward, uninterrupted by 
my lonesome objections.

Samantha Bieth is a junior at Albion College in Albion, Michigan; she is pursuing a Biology major and Philosophy minor, and her goal is to attend graduate school and conduct cellular and molecular research. She is a member of the Track and Cross Country teams and enjoys exploring the arts outside of class and practice. “Giants” is her first publication.

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