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Letters From The Fishbowl

The life, times, fiction, and mind-lint of V.B. Rising. Enter at your own risk, traveler, for here there be rants and misplaced modifiers.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Broken Bird at a Party

"Don’t touch it," they warned.  "Touch it and it’s yours."
But I took it up in a cocktail napkin,
the soft little ball of bone and feather,
rolled it this way and that,
two storeys down from its mother.
It had landed with a thump we would never have heard
if we had not also seen it fall and land,
with so little ceremony,
on the newly-sealed drive.
"She won’t take it back now," they warned,
but anyone could see there was nothing left to take.
It made no move, no sounds.
It breathed and barely kicked.
Its feathers had not yet grown
over its round babybelly and broken wings.
"Someone should…" and we looked among us for the one who would.
It was my father’s drive, the nest in his eaves,
but I could see in his eyes he would end it soon,
just barely too soon.
Maybe before I had lifted the weak weight into my hands,
I would have let him take it, toss it, walk away before it breathed its last.
But I had touched it, and now it was mine.
It could not be taken back.
I had it now, and I said to my father's relief,
"I’ll take care of it."
An acre back and a million miles from where it had already been forgotten,
I knelt in my sundress behind a budding May bush.
"I’m sorry, little bird."
And I closed my eyes and placed my hands and I knew
I must be quick to be kind.
"Born of earth, and to the earth returned.  Goddess guide him home."
He was young and elastic and I was well-intentioned but trembling, and when his neck did not snap (like they do so easily in stories), his outsized beak opened wider than I’d ever imagined it could, and he cried…  In terror and pain and, I despaired, for his mother and I hope and prayed she could not hear.
It was an endless, plaintive cheep.
You would not have heard it from even the other side of our bush,
our bier,
but it came from the open V of his beak like cries from any nursery.
I used the heel of my boot.
All I wanted to do was walk away, but I could not,
not till it was still.
And later, when I sobbed with guilt and uncertainty and sorrow,
I wanted to forget.
But I could not, will not.
It cannot be taken back.
Because I had touched it, and it was mine.

1 comment:

Shana said...

I had to stop halfway through and take a break to be able to get through this one. Beautiful and sad all at once. Nicely done.