When the bird calls

    I hear a thump. Almost imperceptible; if I don’t pay attention no one will notice either. It’s like that time I stole a book from the dust-coated closet of my 4th grade classroom because no one wanted it but me, and what’s the harm in that so I slipped it casually under my wool pea coat. The dedication page gave me a paper cut that stung in the shower for days in hot, soapy water.

    This building is all glass panes and concrete slabs and computer chips. I don’t understand its place here, like a Lego tower in the middle of an old painting of crumbly churches and tree-lined streets. Women swaddled in dusty colored dresses with their arms laden with engorged fruits and vegetables trailing dirt fresh from being picked in the fields. I see people with plastic bags suffocating pop tarts and they smell so chemically sweet. But it’s new and everybody loves new, shiny things but why isn’t anybody else looking around for the cause of the ominous thump?

    My eyes are so dry I feel like tears are ready to squeeze out of the corners at any second and will burn my cheek. I need to go, I’m going, I’ve gone. It’s pointless to try to read here, these stupid miles and miles of fine print pages I can’t decipher their meaning in my own language but what class assigns enough paper to re-create the Amazon forest. My footsteps out of this place are heavy crushed sandbag steps. Oh, oh, oh what is that what is that it can’t be its so small and broken looking basked in the sunlight how did it die?

    This baby sparrow looks so new though, and fluffy and delicately beaked. Just lying on the ground like that with any trace of mischief here, no blood or guts or the messy wet things you see in movies oozing and reaching out at your eyes. My cold palms are just the right size for its fragile frame covered in a bit of speckled feathers but life has stopped. Why doesn’t anybody see it? People are passing or sitting and starting silently at each other and pressing the sticky plastic buttons of their phones.

    I want to tenderly scoop it into my hands lay down the chilled body in a patch of grass and dig till the center of the moist soil earth till I can find it a grave that fits it just right. I want a ceremony for the occasion with a 10-piece string orchestra and I want to cry and cry and cry till it waters the grass over the grave enough to grow a mile-high forest of weeds so I can fall asleep between them and pretend I never saw this, these curled black claws so rigid and parched-looking. They scraped little lines in wet bark during the spring rain and gripped squirming bugs writhing to break free in a fit of shell and veined wings. They hung loose and slack, riding the wind between the newly blossomed pear flowers and fresh tender maple leaves all around us here now. I hear chirping in the morning when my own voice was a low rumble laced with sleep and resentment of the burning hot morning sun piercing little holes in the new day with the shrill sharp calls and chirps to every living thing around.

    I never sounded so loud and pure in my life. I wish I could sing. I always wanted to sing. I need to walk away from here now everyone will stare if I keep staring at it like I’m a freak that’s just strange nobody buries things here and I guess I’ll walk home.


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