273. Cowbird

All at once,
Louise sat back,
Awash in pain:
Too far!
She’d gone too far.

She bowed her head
And covered up her
Face. Louise then
Saw the bird
As she had weeks ago
When she had found it,
Struggling, by her house.
Buffalo-bird,
Folks had used to call it,
Cowbird now.

She’d been
Staring from her sagging
Bedroom window,
Crushing flies
To pass the time.
Hopping past, it
Caught her eye, its
Gravely injured wing
Ripped by–an owl?
A hawk? A branch, a boy?
It could not fly.
The feathers had been
Torn. The wound had not
Healed right, and
Left the wing lashed
Vice-tight to its body
With gray lumpy tissue
Crimped in by its scar.

The bird was calling, dragging.
Well, your eggs at least are
Safe, Louise thought–stashed
For warmth in nests of
Other birds–
It knew that trick.
She’d cupped it, squirming,
Frantic in her hand.
It did not peck.

I’ll loose the scab,
She’d thought: this useless
Dead half-inch, these scales,
And free the wing.
She had cut, tiny, gently.
The bird had bled so badly
It had died.

Louise rocked on her haunches,
And she cried.
She was afraid,
For Riah, for herself.
That scar had spilled
And spilled, would not be
Staunched, had soaked
Her dress, and stained
Her hands, and
Left behind a gaping
Lightness–left
A nothingness
Too dizzying
To bear.

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