I was on my way to the work yesterday, when in my usual path there was construction, so I walked up a block and went down Bryan St instead, and just as I was passing Abe’s on Lincoln, I saw a little lump of yellow on the sidewalk. It was a little bird, lying on his side with his beak gaping and his pearl black eyes wide open. He looked just like this:
I scooped him up because it wouldn’t be right to leave him there whatever his situation and if he was dying I didn't want him doing it all alone in the hot hot sun, on the cruel pavement. Birds are sweet things and deserve the best. There was no struggle when I picked him up, but he wasn’t cold either and he fit perfectly in the palm of my hand. Not knowing what to do with him I just continued on my way, and then I felt his heartbeat in my hand; sputtering a few beats, then getting into a steady rhythm. He rested comfortably in my hand as if we had been buddies forever and we made our way into Reynolds Square where we sat for a bit on a marble bench in the shadow of John Wesley.
I was able to collect some beads of water on my fingertips from rain puddled on a grate and he was able to drink it. Then he closed his eyes slightly as if to say, “Och, that really hurt.” We sat for a little bit, as I didn’t know if his revival was temporary or lasting. I was thinking I should get to work when I felt an ant biting my foot and when I looked down, I felt the bird taking off from my hand. He flew up and away from me, and settled up in the crook of a big oak tree. His wings looked good, his flight flawless and I walked over to look at him one more time before heading to work.
I can’t walk through Reynolds Square now without thinking of my little birdie.
When I experience the thin line between life and death, a full cup versus an empty one, joy versus suffering, even happy endings make me sad. And birds, whether you believe they are the souls of the departed or not, hold special sway over me. So spirited and gracious and seemingly fragile, and so beautiful flying through the ether where we are just heavy clumps in comparison, and so brave when windows look like extended sky, and it’s so easy to get stunned.