Best I Can Do

Another dead bird. Feathers everywhere. One claw left. Another mess for me to reconcile. What was I doing when it happened, inside looking at a screen? A few times I thought I heard something, water dripping, ice melting, a scream. Then I thought, no, it's a child playing in the snow. Was it really death I heard, the shrill of last possibilities?

I can't stop the cats; they do what they do and they don't discriminate, unlike me. I tell them no birds, no chipmunks, no rabbits. Only mice and moles that are in or near the house. They don't understand, they do what they do. Everyone has their own take on this--who is the invader and what is being invaded?

I cleaned up the rug and thought of the bird I saved last week. Dropped a kitchen towel over it and swooped it up into a box. Sat with it in the bathroom until she caught her breath. I can't even tell you what she looked like; all I remember is watching the rise and fall of her chest. And then she chirped, walked, and eventually tried to fly from her box. I was so focused I didn't even name her, but then she didn't need it, I suppose. I walked her covered up in the box to the woods and opened it up in a thick of trees. She flew to the first one, only a few back feathers left to get her there, and we watched each other a moment before she disappeared.

I went back to the house and gathered her feathers.