Frail new-born wings,
Small voice that sings,
New little beating heart,
Dread not thy birth,
Nor fear the earth —
The Infinite thou art :
The sun doth shine,
The earth doth spin.
For welcome — enter in
This green and daisied sphere.
Rejoice — and have no fear.
-Richard Le Gallienne
Tonight, as I was walking back to the house after putting the hens
to bed, I heard a commotion by the kitchen garden gate. In the
twilight, I could just make out our black and white cat and two
swooping mockingbirds. As I came closer, my hands full of hen's eggs,
the cat came towards me and I saw a little fledging bird hop
unsteadily into the garden. I couldn't tell if it was hurt or not,
but didn't stop to discern...just scooped up the cat in one hand,
the eggs were in the other and got back to the house. I deposited
the cat on the porch and the eggs in the fridge, checked on Mom,
took up the flashlight and strode back out towards the garden.
I was going to check on the little one and possibly put it safely
on a branch in a protective bush (what we have read to do in the past
when this has happened). The parent mockingbirds seemed to have moved
across the garden to the fruit trees, so I assumed the fledgling had
made its way there. But I was so wrong, just as that thought went
through my head, I heard and felt a sickening little crushing sound.
In despair, I swung the light to where I had just lifted my flowery
boot...and yes...there was the little body, its life quickly draining
In only seconds it was still and my quiet sobs filled the gentle
darkness, then my apologies were flung out to the two mockingbirds,
somewhere in the garden, mockingbirds that sweeten our evenings and
early mornings...mockingbirds that must be confused, concerned...
As I stumbled back inside I struck the fence and then the steps with
the flashlight, then wiped away my tears so that they wouldn't upset
Mom, then tried to pretend that I was watching Wimbledon, when all
I could sense was the place on my foot that had felt that terrible
and tiny pressure.
There will be no one here to tell until the wee hours of the
morning, so I came here to tell of the little infinity that seemed
to end tonight, through the unlucky placement of my foot...or the
dratted cat...I just don't know. I just know how much the winged
things mean to our lives...we give them water and food and shelter...
we chronicle their daily lives...our eyes are drawn to them over and
over from morning to night...they are our dear companions...and I am
so sorry for what happened. And I shall be doing everything
possible to protect the three tiny swallows now nestling, closed-eyed,
in their wondrous muddy home on our front porch.