>Inanimate Urban Wildlife


Sometimes, when I’m walking down the urban streets, I see a flurry of movement, a flutter in the wind, and my attention catches. Is it a bird? A mammal of some kind? What is going on over there anyway? I wonder. Then the wind picks up and I see what it is.

Plastic bags scuttle like ragged claws over a pavement floor, they nest high in the branches of trees, and when kicked loose, they float and soar on thermals, with nothing but pride weighing them down. Bread bags, staple packs, newspaper bags – they’re all different species, commingling together in a concrete jungle.  Their only predators are the garbage men, those recycling can wielding fiends. If they got the chance, they’d burn them all into compost.

When I watch black or clear plastic bags get stuck somewhere, it’s like they’re hiding, resting, or biding their time, whether it’s under the wheels of a car, or the chimney of an apartment building. Then I watch them get rolled over or stepped on, and  I’m reminded of their inanimateness. It’s a post postmodern homage to industry. I think, how natural it is for humans to assign our characteristics onto things over which we have no control.

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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