Lessons in American History

by a contributor

Delaney Nolan

But Lord, sometimes all I want to do is eat some pigeons, you know? Just fry ’em up real good and crispy like mm-mm. Just crunch crunch crunch. Their little beaks. Yellow feet. Pull the feathers from the wing. No: leave the feathers there.

Some fun facts about feathers which You May Not Know: the first “feather” was invented in 1938 by Gershwin C. Turning, who processed horse hair until it was very fine, and then attached it to the hollowed-out leg of a praying mantis. They immediately caught the imagination of the American people, and were quickly incorporated into fairy tales, fetishes, animals, and biblical literature (re: the original angels, which were clothed in wool, as everybody knows).

These “feathers” have been mass-produced since the ’40s—primarily in the Feather District of Detroit. However, when environmental and public health associations began raising a ruckus over the massive amounts of carcinogens that these plants released into the air, soil, Great Lakes and lungs of the workers (Imagine! Those black clouds belched from every stack at once; the great iron arm of the press comes crunching down on the mold and then—CA-CHUNK—out comes the latest in the line of feathers (type: v. fine, color: creampuff, size: medium) and moved along the conveyor and this process repeated, repeated, repeated in a haze of pale dust), so eventually the plants were moved to China. Ever since feather production was centralized in Shanghai, however, there has arisen a collective sense that they are unpatriotic—malicious, even—prompting riots, furious Republican TV spots, the occasional mass burning of down comforters. Thus, feather consumption has been on the decline, while prices rise steadily.

So that’s what I mean. Hard to get a decent fucking pigeon around here and a girl’s gotta eat.

Delaney Nolan’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Apt, Gargoyle, Grist, Hobart, Post Road, Wigleaf and other places. Her chapbook “Louisiana Maps” (Ropewalk), winner of the Ropewalk Press Fiction Editor’s Chapbook Prize, will be published this fall.

See also: Delaney’s story You Live Alone In a Small House, and 5 Things You Should Read.