oh i do! i do! It still haunt
it wasn't dead
yet and it was barely a bird. I was walking to work, also not a bird. Next to the sidewalk, in a tiny patch of close-shaven grass, it lay quiver
ing. So i stopped, because it was alive
, and crouched down. Its body was bulbous, translucent, unwieldy, a tiny little limp
neck and small round head with black closed eyes
. Peeping. Opening desperate
ly its little beak, not even decided yet to be pink or yellow. Almost a tongue thrusting into the air with each tiny scream. I knew i ought not to touch it.. I looked around for a nearby nest it might have fallen out of, and thought of all of the dog
s and cat
s in the neighborhood. I stood and walked on to my destination.
Through some morbid curiosity, i walked back the same way. It was still there, nestled in coarse grasses, not broken but not working. And not fixable. I stopped to look at it, on my haunches, being sure not to touch this miracle chick that had survived the day, in case it would be rescued by some creature better fitted for the task: its mother? It sensed me there and turned its head toward me, mouth open so wide. It seemed thinner, the sack of its little body looser. The black pins of developing feathers looked like fingerbones. I hurried home.
The next morning it screamed silently, and i knelt close to it, looking, pitifully, at the organs that shifted beneath its smooth monstrous skin as it begged me for food, or love. How was it that the cats or dogs had not snatched up this helpless little morsel?: I could imagine the crunch of its little bones in a predatory mouth, easily.. i could imagine the crunch of them in my hand. Its eyes were still closed, the pointy little protofeathers stood out in stark contrast to skin like wet rice paper. It must have felt my shadow through its closed eyelids (translucent as well); it followed my movement, weakly. A huge effort lifted its little head. I was overcome, i wanted to hold it, to comfort it - without consulting me, my hand reached out and gently scooped it up, where it rested quietly and warm in the hollow of my palm, its tiny feet curled beneath the loose pouch of its stomach. I walked to the far side of the train tracks and realized there was nothing, not even one little thing, i could do. I couldn't bring it to work. It opened its mouth and reached at me like the baby in Eraserhead. I gently set it in a patch of grass, on the far side of the tracks, by the parking lot. And forced myself to walk away.
It was gone when i came back that way that afternoon. No trace. Of course, there were no feathers to scatter.