Sanda Iliescu

When you see your first swallow, immediately run without speaking to a spring and drench your
eyes with water; ask god that you have no eye aches for the year, and that swallows carry away
any pain in your eyes.

Marcellus, De Medicamentis

Each spring swallows fill the courtyards of Rome. They fly aggressively and swiftly. Occasionally they
graze the glass of windows making quick scratching sounds. Most often, the flight of each bird seems
wonton, unrelated to the others. Yet, during early evenings when flocks thin out, patterns emerge: one
swallow mirrored exactly the flight of another; two or four birds describe parallel arcs. I watched swallows
fly and drew the lines they traced across the sky: the shallow arcs and tight loops, the crisscrossing and
swirling. To watch a swallow fly above my head was to receive the sharp sudden sensation of a point
slicing the air. Collage making-cutting and stapling-was the best way to describe this sensation. Watching
swallows was not only a question of seeing intensely, but of hearing and feeling, of imagining what it might
be like to fly.