I am sitting with three women in a wooden boat at daybreak trying to catch the fishbird that lives in the lake. Although it is spoken of as a myth, we are true believers, and to insure proper conduct, one of the women whispers that we are in church and I completely understand.
The surface of the lake is still and jet black. I stare hard at the water and realize the darkness is only an illusion of the surface. The water is actually clear and I can see deep into the lake if I shift my perception. Only I can see the fishbird hovering at the bottom and it is looking back at me. I suspect it has been waiting for someone to see through the darkness and notice it.
Fishbird is magnificent with its green topside and shimmering gold stripes. The wing-fins are bright purple with pink tips, its beak and the scales on its chest are powder blue. The legs look like long, clear, sparkling yellow crystals.
The women drop a line and hook into the water and I am afraid that our desire to possess fishbird will destroy it. Just as I begin to object to the hook, big waves develop on Lake Kivu and fishbird thrusts powerfully out of the water. As it reaches directly overhead in the sky, and with an exultant voice, it sings Prince’s, “I’m not your woman, I’m not your man. I’m something that you’ll never understand. I’m not a human, I’m not a dove, I’m your conscience, I’m love. All I really need is to know is that you believe. Believe that I would die for you.”