Never Take Your Bird to the Vatican

I have a bird, Little Ahab, a slightly disabled dove, and my darling. He gazes upon me even now, with one dear beady eye, from a favorite roost atop an eight foot triptych. This bird trusts me (most of the time). Like most domestic birds, he would meet a tragic end, swift or slow, were he to escape outdoors. I have nightmares about him lost, hobbling the gutters, the dim image of his seed, pellet, salad, and treat dishes fading in his tiny, starving brain...

In a recent dream, I found myself inexplicably wandering St. Peter’s Basilica, clutching my squirming birdie in my hands. St. Peter’s: that’s one big place.  I was last there with some hundred and eighty Sisters of Christian Charity, for the Beatification of Mother Pauline Von Mallinckrodt (whose portrait I had done). You can lose 180 nuns in St. Peter's, and their substantial relatives too, never mind one tiny bird.

Throughout the dream I traipsed that vast and intricate marble edifice, Little Ahab wriggling ever more energetically. I realized his escape in St. Peter’s would be as bad or worse than escape in Rhode Island. They’re almost the same size. I’d have to remain in St. Peter’s permanently, for the rest of my life, leaving food for my bird.  Doves have been known to live near 30 years. If fed properly.

Would the great rotunda be the place to sprinkle his dinner? Would he see me, and come? Or would he starve, and, unbeknownst to me, drop behind the great Bernini altarpiece, leaving me to scatter futile Mazuri Small Bird Maintenance Diet near the Pieta until my own demise, years hence...

Like I said, never take your bird to the Vatican.

Below, a detail from my portrait of Mother Pauline, which was full figure and somewhat larger than life. I worked from one photograph; the only one taken of her before her death in 1881.  She had a wonderful face, and a kind heart:


This painting was sent to Milan, as a pattern for a mosaic. There, sadly, it was stolen by a disgruntled liturgical arts company employee, and never seen again.  I also did a large sculpture of Mother Pauline with a child, in plasticine (which weighed near 400 lbs. -- see Liturgical Work gallery). Traveling to Rome and Germany with sisters from the order Mother Pauline founded was wholly fascinating...

But, anon.