A grey bird feather with white spots on a sidewalk.

A tiny bird
clearly frantic
clearly dying of something
on the edge of my driveway
excess heat, cancer, fertilizer pellets,
old age, it’s hard to tell
a young bird from an old one.

I considered capturing it,
ferrying it to a nearby vet,
or swaddling the thrashing body
inside one of my kid’s old baby blankets,
holding it tight until it settled down
to go easy into what it didn’t need to be
so terrified of.

In the end, I did nothing.
No attempt to halt flops and rolls,
hush hissy gasps, I left the bird alone
to get the job done, returned later
to glossy black wings
limp and still,
wispy grey bugs
scurrying eyelids,
twig legs curled
toward an indigo belly
still round with breakfast.

I gave thought to a shovel,
a shoe box, a eulogy,
peace in the great beyond,
but what was the point.
The story of dying was over.
I covered the bird with moss,
left her where she’d fallen.
A shame she panicked the way she had
because look at you now
still as stone
as willing as river current.


Photo by Quinn Dombrowski, used and adapted under CC.