A Marital Parable Revealed
Into the midst of serious discussion
about what went wrong in the past
and what will and will not be tolerated
in the present so that our marriage
could ascend into the future
on bright wings,
A baby wren fell while trying to fly,
landing among last year’s leaves
serving as mulch for waiting flowers.
The Maine Coon cat in camouflaged nap,
startled by this gift of the universe,
But the border collie, ever alert,
charged the cat and took the bird
in gentle mouth like a runner
taking a victory lap. She settled
Into her corner of the yard,
released the bird, and watched.
The little bird limped away
before being caught again
by dog with curious, cocked head.
We knew our dog ate birds.
Before we got the cat,
we’d find birds dead in the backyard
with her standing proud before them
like a show dog before trophies
when we’d discover the carnage,
as if she’d saved us from squawking cowbirds
or pooping pigeons,
or brightly-hued cardinals.
But it seemed she didn’t know what to do
with this aviary appetizer
too small to eat, too injured to play.
I, too traumatized by certain death
after spending all day on my father’s funeral,
just shook and cried, paralzyed
by the unfairness of it all--
a little bird, helpless, defenseless
abandoned by Mama nowhere to be found--
with hungry cats and dogs all around
until you calmly went over
and rescued the little bird
from the dog who let you
seeming relieved you took it off her paws.
You held the poor scared thing
forever in your hand,
stroking it ever so gently
until its breathing relaxed.
You saved it from certain death
But now what?
It was getting colder, and it was wet
from the dog’s mouth,
one leg seemed injured
and perhaps a wing.
Had we just prolonged the inevitable?
I made a box to put it in,
which, in the past, always meant
a dead bird in the morning.
I found a little dish for water,
I put the cat inside, then the dog,
then we put the box in the fading sun
with some measure of hope.
Was it too little to eat on its own?
We weren’t about to regurgitate worms.
You MacGyvered a tall shelf
on which to place the wooden box
beneath the tree with the nest
while I made the bird a blanket
with some of the dog’s shedding fur.
Then I went inside to continue work
on the impending memorial service,
praying for the bird’s best.
Then the miracle happened.
You turned to put the bird on the shelf,
and it was out of the box, hopping
on the table where we’d sat at the beginning.
He spread his little wings and flapped,
flying a few feet, though sprained.
He was easily caught again
so still at risk. You helped him
settle down in the leaves
beneath the bushes for the night.
One of our guests
unknowingly let the cat out that night.
The next morning she was at the window
like always, and I expected the worst.
The bird was nowhere to be found.
Pity, but that’s the way it is.
Then you came in later that morning
to say you’d seen the little wrens
flocking as family to the feeder
with one flying not as well or as far
and landing wonkily on one leg.
Seems our bird is yet alive
Thanks to all your work
that hopefully can transfer to us now.
© 2007, Tess Lockhart. All rights reserved. .