Friday, May 06, 2005



This is How...

.... to pick up the birdy that fell out of the tree, cradled in the palm of big sister's hand, squeezing just enough to let her feel safe. This is how we feed her with the eyedropper, press the rubber bulb until you can see the single drop glisten on the tip. Wait until she opens her beak. This is how we make a bed for the birdy with a shoebox and your softest folded towel. This is how we listen not so much with our ears but instead with our eyes to make sure she's breathing. This is how to stroke her feathers. If they tickle your fingerptips it's just right. If they press your fingertips, you might hurt her. This is how to check on birdy, open the door gently never let it slam, so she won't startle. This is how we let big sister watch over birdy now that it's past your bedtime.

This is how you find relief from the 100 degrees of the afternoon.
Even af ter dark the house gets so hot inside all you can think
of is how the open front door brings in the cool night air. This
is how the cat crouches on the doorstep, waiting for that bing at
the end of the dryer cycle, knowing in that way that cats know just when you will be too wrapped up in the warm cloth monotony of folding and sorting to hear her claws scrape the entry's rough tile. Cats know what humans refuse to understand. Cats know that humans forget. This is how you find out. The baby in the hallway, crying.

"Mommy, the cat has birdy in her mouth. Cat has birdy in her

This is how you chase the cat. You run with a flashlight, your bare feet popping into the cold bumpy grass of the backyard. You don't want to catch him, not really. You standing in the damp night, a dead bird in your hands. Instead, you scream towards the bushes at the back of the yard where your circle of D cell light searches vainly for the cat, the master of the night. You shrug your shoulders and shake your head, hoping that the baby will see how you tried.

This is how the baby says,

"Mommy put the birdy back in her bed, put the birdy back."

This is how the baby's eyes look as wide and heavy as stone
when she sees that you have no answer.

This is how you make her try to forget. You take her up in
your arms, freeing her ever so briefly from the relentlessness of
gravity and stainmaster carpets. This is how you try to make her
forget, hoping that your arms can make amnesia. You feel
ever so curiously relieved when your daughter tells you,

"Maybe birdy come back tomorrow. Tomorrow, okay."

This is how the baby goes back to your bed, body stiff, eyes open, staring at a ceiling lit with the shadow of wings.

This is how they learn sometimes. This is how you have to
raise them. You lying next to her, wondering how you will ever
get the courage to open that door again. You, eyes open, your body cradled around your baby, waiting for morning.


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