the feathers, lighter than dust and dog hair and glitter and toast crumbs and bits of string and a penny and a stick and dirt, create mini tornadoes around my broom. they flutter above and beyond the gathering pile, no promise of where they will land. i hold my breath, not wanting to ingest the remnant of her fear, her moment of being toyed with.
what i thought was our cat’s call to come inside was really his call to show his pride, his hunger satisfied, his skills honed. i admit i shut the door to the kitchen, allowing him the space to eat his prey. then the what-ifs played in our minds. the what ifs were it. the bird was alive. out went the cat, out went the clothespins, a basket freed, in went the towel, in went the bird, on goes the time.
it’s easier today. i can see the baby bird for what she is. i can see her separate from me. i can see her nestled on a bed of a tea towel that i embroidered some road trips ago. i see my son glance down at her now and then, not afraid to stand vigil to her death, not afraid to imagine her survival. he is her witness. i am not the bird.
it’s easier today. i don’t feel like my feathers were plucked. i don’t feel like parts of me are escaping under the loose floorboards of the kitchen. i don’t feel sore from being batted around. i don’t feel numb from the transfer between dirt ground to 70s linoleum to cotton nest. i remember that i know how to feel those things. i re-member my self. i breathe in love and breathe out fear.
it’s easier today. not long ago it was harder. it was about a rabbit.
from a distance they saw the cat, barely moving, engaged, a baby rabbit pinned between paws. balancing the natural order of things and the child’s empathic heart, i listened to his slow string of calm and rational reassurance:
don’t worry, the bunny will be fine. look…he’s not really biting, he’s not going to kill her, it’ll be fine, there isn’t even any blood, there won’t even be a mark, she’ll be able to get away, he’s just messing with her, they do that sometimes, it’ll be fine, she’ll be able to get home, no, no, no, she’s not dead, she’s just really still, she’s just scared, wait-look! he let her go! see? she’s fine. she’s okay! she can still run, oh, she’s fast, he’s not even chasing her, she’ll get home, i bet she lives close by, imagine the mama bunny waiting, it’ll be fine, she will get home, i bet she’s almost there, look at her go, she knows where to go, remember…he didn’t really hurt her, there isn’t even a mark, she’s fine, and no one will even know what happened.
it was harder then, i knew that rabbit. i felt markless and scared and fake brave and watched and talked about and left to my own devices and messed with and stupid for being so scared…after all, they weren’t going to kill me, they were going to let me go, i had people waiting for me at home, i lived really close, i was always almost home, no one could tell what happened.
downy feathers and tufts of hair left behind, carried by the air, no promise where they would land.
and now, in the hour since i started writing, he noticed the bird died, took her to the sleepy flowerbed, washed his hands, proclaimed her the cutest he’d seen, carried on with his screen time. i will refill my coffee, add a splash of cold cream, then find a broomless way to gather every feather from every corner. my dog will follow behind, knowing something happened.
january 11, 2014