My longest-standing friend
It crashed hard into the window pane, soft down feathers flew. We rose, alarmed, to see it on the tiles, breathing heavily. Its head, slightly up, laid itself down after a while.
"Not looking good," my friend said.
"But look at that heart," I pointed out.
She agreed: we both saw it pumping relentlessly, lifting the small, green torso up and down, up and down.
None of us dared go near the concussed creature, for fear of shocking him or her the more.
Time went by. Neither did the head lift nor did the heart stop beating.
Under my breath - what a vitally important place that is! - under my breath I asked whether there be guardian angels for birds as small as this, but I did not wait for an answer as I summonsed a guardian angel for this miniscule bloblet of warmth in the universe.
I pulled myself on my knees a little towards him and spoke softly and he blinked.
That gave me hope. "Hope is the thing with feathers / that perches in the soul."
No, I did not think of Emily Dickinson's poem while I was oaring myself towards the tiny being, willing it to know I meant no harm. Dickinson's poem is in my marrow and needs no conscious articulation.
I stroked it once, expecting it to take fright.
It seemed to relax. My friend's husband encouraged me to take it in my hands.
"Just don't let it fly into the house," warned my friend: the bird faced the open door into the house.
The two men stationed themselves in the door to discourage any thought of flight into the house.
I edged in from behind and lifted the bird. Its claws immediately gripped my fingers. A good sign. I stroked and spoke. It blinked, looked, turned its head. Perkily, actually.
My friend stepped outside and the bird pooped.
"That's a positive sign!" we chorused.
"He looks like he'll stay there forever," my friend's husband said.
Yes, the little soul was comfortable, albeit his eyes remained surprised at the shape his heaven seemed to be taking: full of great, featherless entities making strange sounds.
At length, I got up, rested my hands on the balcony railing near a tree and suddenly he fluttered away. Landed on a steep branch, hung on admirably.
I shook the poop off my fingers, it splashed on the tiles.
We went inside.
I was aware how we had left him to himself and to the guardian angel of his life's flame.
When we went out again, he wasn't there.
He'd asked for nothing.
In extremity, he'd given us all his trust.
"Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul, / And sings the tune without the words, / And never stops at all."
Under your breath, in your marrow, in your hands - vitally important places!