The dead cardinal
The thing about windows is that
you don’t want them so clean that
the birds can’t tell whether it’s
an opening to a room to explore
or the impending cause of their demise.
I have seen some people place
stickers of little butterflies there,
but I think that’s a bit tacky, really,
so I prefer just not to clean them obsessively
and let life leave a mark that can be seen.
Just the other day I was watching a program
about creating wildflower gardens
and my heart knew as soon as I heard
the bird hit the window. It was dead.
There on the patio lay a female cardinal,
her feathers creamy brown with hints of red.
The body lay perfectly still, and still beautiful, too.
I walked out onto the patio barefoot
with a large spoon from the stove
and stooped next to the beautiful creature.
They always love the sunflower seeds, don’t they?
We feed our birds like the children they are–
children of God in their own way, beloved.
The cats love them, of course, and spend hours
in chairs by the patio windows, dreaming.
When we step out to refill the three feeders,
we can hear them in the trees, calling out
and encouraging us to hurry up so they can feast.
They are like small proverbs with feathers,
prayers that flutter by and perch for a while
and then move on to where they are going.
I took her small body and buried it in the large pot
with the magnolia tree that I love so much.
As I slid the dirt back over, I just sat there
for a moment, giving thanks and grieving.
Then, a few days later, I noticed the sparrow
tucked in the branches of that same tree
crying its heart out about something
I can only imagine, and that made me smile.
August 31, 2020