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.