It is so easy to decide not to go to the Marquette street garden
at 6 am when the alarm sings its hellacious requiem.
But I went anyways, today.
i rode my bike there even,
the right leg rolled up
on my garden jeans.
i got there, opened the shed, grabbed a shovel
and while I was bringing it back to my plot
a young woman with disheveled hair yelled from out on the sidewalk to me
“Do you like birds?”
And I will admit, Love, I was already over it.
Who is this street person and
what are they wanting to sell me?
“Sure,” I said, in a tone that communicated I wish this conversation
weren’t being born, laughing a little—even—at my own horrible fate,
whatever it was, whatever it will be.
“Because there’s a bird over there and it
seems like it’s injured or something,” she said.
This brought me toward her, an action that happened
without the necessity of thought.
“Where?” I said.
“There, there,” she pointed down the sidewalk.
I saw nothing.
“There, there” she pointed some more.
I have eyes,
but I saw nothing and so, not giving up on me,
she pulled out her phone.
“Look, I took pictures of it. It’s beautiful.
A bluebird, I think. I love blue—it’s my favorite color.”
She showed me the screen of her phone.
“It didn’t move when I walked close to it
and I went to touch it and it still didn’t move
so i think something’s wrong with it.”
She had two hearts drawn on one of her
cheeks, one heart overlapping
“I just don’t want anyone to hurt it.
You know, it’d be like you broke your leg
and then someone kills you because of it.”
I told her I’d go take a look at it
and see if I could figure anything out.
“What’s your name?” I asked
It was Daysha.
She was walking to her parents house.
It wasn’t even 6:30 yet.
We said goodbye and I walked half a block and
when i found a small blue thing
in the middle of the pavement
I looked out at Daysha and she waved as she crossed the street.
And Love, let me tell you,
this blue was not moving.
It was small and feathered and
it had a beak and wings
but it might as well have been a trinket
made of tin.
I walked over to it
and it did this:
I talked to it,
tried to let it know,
in a language it doesn’t speak,
that I wanted to help it
and then I took off my sweatshirt
thinking I’d use it as a net
which sounds terrifying to me, even,
Because the adolescent finch I caught last week,
when Dale and Christian were outside the library,
11 years old each and unsure whether it would fulfill them more
to protect it
or to kill it,
that one was not having it
and did as much flying as it could—
which was very little—to avoid our joint attempts
and, while it proved pretty feisty,
we were three against one
and I finally used some plasticware and a lid
to catch it for a few minutes
before we could put it on a higher ledge
with more green and landscape
where all the other adolescent birds seemed to be hanging out
it is so hard to know
what the right thing is
what is the right thing
when you are trying to help someone vulnerable
even though they have made it pretty clear
they are not interested
in said help
and this is why
I took off my sweatshirt
to use as a net
on little tiny blue bird guy but—
what the heck—
i thought first,
why not just try with my hands
and I did
and he was so still
it was as if he were dead—
but he wasn’t—
with little coaxing
he was in my hands
his tiny talons,
which were not talons at all
but were still sharp,
digging into my palm,
ever so slightly, which reminds me now of James
who at 3 years old
is already a champion of naughtiness at my library,
no man in his life, and a mother who’s sweet but
and though my desk is hundreds of feet from our main entrance
I still know exactly when he comes in the building
because he screams “Nick! Nick!!!!! I want Daniel Tiger Neighborhood!!!!”
or some other such dvd with talking animals
and I correct this behavior as best as I can,
but when I put my hand down for a low five after chastising him
he always just grasps it and holds on
for as long as he can
and it surprised me greatly for the first few times
but now I’ve come to anxiously anticipate it
yes, Love, I think of James
with this fluffy azure jewel
digging what it has to hold onto things
into what I have to hold onto things,
these hands that sow snap pea seeds
and type e-mails
and explore all of You, on a good day
and now I have a blue bird in my hands,
or a bird that’s blue, at least,
and I have no idea what to do with it
I am an idiot
why do I constantly offer the world
things I don’t actually have?
So I walk over to the garden,
figure i can put it in a greener space,
a space where soil is under foot
and worms are under soil
and maybe this little guy can feed himself
at this point
which means the worms will die
which confuses me
because I am a vegan
and it’s all too much
so I just sit on the ledge
of a raised bed
and pet my new friend
with my finger
I brush his wings
and I slick back his crown
and it’s like I’m imagining it now
as i try to remember it,
how could this even have really happened,
and I touched his beak, too
and he stayed perfectly calm for it all
as if—of course!—this was what we were planning today!
and I’m talking the whole time
telling him how good he’s doing
how brave he is
and how pretty
how much better life will be here in the garden
than out there, weirdly, in the middle
of a sidewalk
and the robins are hopping around
and the killdeer are making a racket
so i stand
and approach them a little bit more
and start soliciting them for help
begging them to foster
my mysterious indigo friend
my tiny little friend
and as I’m pleading with the killdeer
and explaining the situation
so they don’t think I’m just some wacko
off the streets
that’s when the explosion happened!
and I tell you no one could’ve been more shocked than me
and I yelled at the top of my lungs
and even laughed maybe—insanely—
which made the people walking to work
turn and stare at the man
howling like mad in the garden.
Because my bluebird friend
burst into strong, confident flight.
and dipped and soared and finally
alighted on a telephone wire
and holy hot damn
the world is suddenly something different
and I realize, Love,
that this super weird thing
I held here in my very own hands—
You, my sweet friend, who now
are too high for me to even try to reach,
I realize You
were not what I thought You were,
You weren’t even who