Dear whomever it may concern,
My name is Sam, and I am a swan. I am of course very majestic, since I am a swan. You may have heard of me. My claims to fame included appearing in serene paintings of moonlit lakes, inspiring works of classical music and being the star of the children’s story, “The Ugly Duckling.”
Everything was going pretty great in my life until I bit the big one. I don’t exactly remember how it happened. All I know is one minute I am a graceful swan swimming and being admired, and the next I’m being put in a big glass case with another swan and several other different types of birds I’d never even heard of. I believe you knew of them once – you put nametags on all of them, after all.
They were all very pretty when we all first got there, they were so bright and colorful. I looked pretty great too if I do say so myself, with my pristine white feathers. I realized my new purpose in life was to stand in your fine establishment, and be admired for the rest of my somehow extended lifetime. I was fine with that and in the beginning I’d say things were pretty good.
Many years have passed since and I guess you forgot we were down here or something. I guess everyone else forgot too because we became lucky if maybe 10 people strolled through our lonely little hall a day. You put us in the basement and put the Hope Diamond upstairs. How were we supposed to compete with that? To make matters worse, your cleaning people must have forgotten about us as well because as each year passed we became more and more dusty.
The once vibrantly colored birds all became the same dusty shells of their former selves. I found that my feathers, which had been so pristinely white and gorgeous when I first came, were now permanently doomed to be brown and dirty. Did you expect me to clean my feathers myself? Because I’ve tried but you’ve wired my head so I cannot turn it and therefore the dust just keeps piling on despite all my best efforts.
It seemed for a time we were forsaken, until a person suddenly came through with some fancy contraption. I know a camera when I see one, but this camera was unlike any I’d ever seen before. I heard tell from the other little birds that we were going to appear online, that anyone could see us. I grew hopeful, perhaps at last we would be cleaned off! So that the world could see what pretty birds we all were.
And you know what? My hopes were completely dashed. My dusty sad self is what can be seen online, for the whole world to see. In fact, I’d be surprised if anyone could find us online considering you completely mislabeled our hallway.
Do you have something against bird kind? Are you prejudiced?
I write this letter as a final plea, from a swan who has fallen from grace and stardom and into your basement. Please, people of the Smithsonian Institution, come dust off us birds. We wish to represent our species looking fresh, and bright, not covered in dust.
Does it not look bad on your institution to be harboring dusty birds in your basement? Are you hiding us? Are you ashamed of us? Because we are certainly ashamed to be seen like this, in far from our best form.
I am a nice swan, but if action is not taken I will have no choice but to bust out of here and waddle out into the street. Then people will get all scared about the zombie swan grazing in front of the white house.
Is that really what you want? I didn’t think so.
Sam the Swan