All photos on this site

were taken by Dana Davis

Oakland, California, USA

copyright 2016-2019 Lorraine Bonner

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Canaries

Nobody could figure out what to do about the canaries.

There had always been canaries. Their bright colors and cheerful singing made work in the mine seem a little easier. Sometimes they died, and no one knew why, but there were always more.

Now something very different was happening. The canaries were thrashing about in their cages and crashing into one another. A lot of them were getting hurt. Some even got killed.

The miners were baffled. "What's wrong with these canaries?" they asked. "Maybe we should just cut their beaks and claws off. Then they can't hurt each other." In the end, they just shoved the cages into a deeper shaft and tried to forget about them. 

The miners were proud of the hard work they did, providing for their families. Up above, the owners of the mines sat in sunny airconditioned offiices, selling the ore that the miners dug out. 

Sometimes a miner's child would ask their parents, "Why does Mr. Jones have such a big house and a new car every year and we don't? Shouldn't we get more, since our daddies do all the work?"

"Of course not, dear," the parent would reply. "If we got a fair share, that would be socialism, and we wouldn't want that, now would we?"

Down in the mines, things were getting worse. The canaries had escaped from the deep shafts, and were dive-bombing the miners. Miners tried everything to protect themselves from the violent canaries: goggles, helmet, gloves, chain mail, alarm systems, drones. Some of the miners became policemen and shot at the canaries. Sometimes they hit a miner by mistake.

Then one day, while taking off his heavy gloves, one of the miners noticed something strange. In among the hair on the back of his hand was something shining in the gloom. He hastily put his glove back on, but it wasn't long before all the miners were sprouting feathers, their arms turning into wings, their faces becoming lustrous.

They couldn't handle the mining equipment. They realized how close they were to dying from the poisonous stench of the mine, which they had never noticed before. The canaries stopped attacking them and were flying back and forth, showing them the way to fresher air.

That was the day we remembered who we are, and our entire flock flew out of the mine to freedom.