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Yesterday, rain brushed every window white, locking us deeper inside. Today, birds mouth mats of mud.
In crevices under the deck, the robin is too obvious a hope. I am looking through unpainted strips of glass now that we’ve pulled the tape off in slow, tense strips.
She has started three separate nests. Dry grasses hang in raggy fringes on the cross beam. One of the nests is working. One is enough. The others sit like husks, like half-formed tombs.
Two weeks ago, my husband started to rake and left. There is a small pile still—scrabbled grass and green rake. The robin is pulling up dead lawn from the pile.
When her beak is packed, she scrounges yet another clump. She can hardly see past the tangle of turf. Still, she knows where to roost. She finds her half-nest half-blind.
While robins build, they are memorizing their surroundings. It is not the nest itself but the way it is nestled. A robin’s safety is in the whole setting—the sturdy beam beneath, the slatted deck above, the acrylic-painted hummingbird fragmenting the view. She can identify her nest by the little eyes that watch behind glass, by the paint brushes in blued hands.
She is winging it together, wedging red breast into mudded cup.
I slide the painted glass door open a crack. The shuck of air startles her. Still, after a few cold moments she returns.
I hear the bend of many feathers—she throws her weight into packing down whatever warmth she can find.
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Patricia Peters currently resides in Canada with her husband and three sons. She has spent much of her adult life in Latin America. She holds an MFA from Seattle Pacific University and her work has appeared in CV2, On the Seawall, The Society and others.
featured photo courtesy of the author