A FAINT DING. Nothing more, nothing less. An error had clearly been made. On closer inspection a dazed bird had announced it’s arrival, lying atop concrete slabs on the other side of the glass slide-door.
I went outside, softly, squatting near it, noting the spotted brown feathers of the young blackbird and unremarkable black beak.
So light, but what a strong heart for something so small, its warmth and softness astonishing.
Gently I held it, hands side by side, inspecting it, saddened by the sight of a wing it couldn’t retract. It was scared, the bright moist eyes questioning my motive.
For three weeks it lived in a box. I dug for worms in the garden. I would help it fly once more.
I doubt it understood, though I told it I wished it no harm when our eyes met, as the wing began to heal and grey legs became hoppity, eager to be free, a freedom no man would turn down if offered the chance.
It was time. Chirps begged for a chance to take off and so I held it tenderly as we went outside, the weather as bright and still as the day it had fallen. I opened my palms, it opened my heart and mind, then flew confidently, up and up through liberty air, unfaltering, then out…of sight.
A week later, I noticed a small pile of feathers – brown and black – outside the very window the blackbird hit; there were tail feathers, contour feathers, secondaries and primaries, feathers I never knew by definition until I traced finger through encyclopedias.
I’m not sure why but I collected them placing them in a jar near where I write. Day by day there were more; fluffy and small, bristling and long and in between – until – the deliveries stopped.
By chance I spoke to an ornithologist I knew. I asked how many feathers there might be on a blackbird. A little surprised, he gave me an approximation. And I was shocked. I had counted the feathers out of boredom. In my jars there were enough feathers to cover a blackbird. Enough to fly, one way or another.
On a power-line above shaking barley, backdropped by inviting blue sky, sits a blackbird, and it doesn’t fly away as I approach. Because it’s, it’s me, me in my imagination. But it can fly, and it goes anywhere it wants to. Some days however it likes to perch there, knowing it can fly, and choosing not to.