You’re Gorgeous! You’re Hideous! Let’s Scream!

Adventures with weird birds

Emily Kingsley
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readSep 21, 2021

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Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

I was at this art gallery on Cape Cod and there were these huge black and white images of feathers. They were printed on this creamy-textured paper that you just wanted to rub between your fingers. I was very pregnant and the skin on my feet was pulled so taut it seemed like it would split. I sipped a berry smoothie and stared at the feathers.

They looked the opposite of how I felt. Effortlessly graceful. Simple and cool. Beautiful.

I didn’t say anything about them, but later my husband snuck back to the gallery and bought one for me because that’s just the kind of guy he is. I’m looking at it now, framed in charcoal and gray and something about it still makes me feel calm like everything is really going to be ok because of this one, enormous, soothing feather.

The feather is from a French Guinea hen and it’s mostly black with rows of little white dots down the left side and parallel white lines down the right side. The patterns look like when you see a nighttime view of the lights in the suburbs or the indentations in your skin when you fall asleep on a terrycloth towel.

You can look at them up close and see that each spot is a little bit different. Or you can stand back and see how it looks like the spots are undulating, even though you know they’re flat on the page.

Another thing about me is that I like raising birds. I’m always hatching things or setting up warming lights for baby chicks somewhere. Last year my friend found 12 turkey eggs in a field that had been abandoned and I canceled my plans for the day to drive over and pick them up. I incubated them for four weeks on my kitchen table. When they didn’t hatch, I was a little sad, but mostly relieved. It would have been hard to figure out what to do with 12 little wild turkey babies in my cul-de-sac neighborhood.

If you haven’t figured it out, the natural progression was for me to eventually raise French Guinea fowl on my own. It’s not exactly that I was longing for them, it just seemed like at some point, it was bound to happen.

On Mothers’ day of this year, my husband and kids surprised me with a trip to our local feed store. Somehow they’d gotten word that a…

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Emily Kingsley
Human Parts

Always polishing the flip side of the coin. Live updates from the middle class. e.kingsleywhalen@gmail.com. She/her.