Sunday Morning (So Help Us God)

The Arctic tern has the longest migration of any animal. It flies from the Arctic all the way to the Antarctic, and then back again within a year. This is an extraordinarily long flight for a bird its size. And because the terns live to be thirty or so, the distance they will travel over the course of their lives is the equivalent of flying to the moon and back three times…

(They) ask questions about the birds. How do they know where to go? Why do they fly so far? Why are they the last, why these ones, what makes them luckier than the others? I don’t know the answers, not really, but I do my best and, anyway, it’s not really answers they want, it’s simply remembering what it feels like to love creatures that aren’t human. A nameless sadness, the fading away of the birds. The fading away of the animals. How lonely it will be here, when it’s just us.

Charlotte McConaghy, Migrations: A Novel (Flatiron Books, August 4, 2020)


Photo: Phil Gower of an Arctic Tern

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