I tried to save the bird, but it died, in a shoebox in my hands on Fulton Street
this is the way things go sometimes. The street was hot, humming like a planet’s
molten gut. That summer all the birds were dying, there was a blight, disease,
contagion on the birds, at least that’s what my friend, whose father was also
dying, said. Sometimes we sat in the basement of her parents’
house, and sometimes we took walks without set endings around
the neighborhood where I didn’t ever see other dead or dying
birds but knew they were there. Under branches, beneath just slipped
cast iron manhole covers— My bird, though, that I saw: first I thought
it slid intentionally under the car, why a hawk or a falcon in Brooklyn,
I don’t know bird differences but it was too much of the sky to be
flitting there. On its back, wings curled and straining, it twitched.
Heaved in too controlled up down movements, trapped beneath
that molten planet’s surface, bubbling up for air. It broke its wing,
I thought, its foot, fuck, it’s dying. Nothing broken except all: I ran
upstairs for a shoebox coaxed it in whispering baby baby keep breathing why
am I calling this bird baby it rocked in the shoebox as I ran to the nearest
vet. Shouldn’t have run. If there were a planet with its insides so hot
it would know how better to keep its birds. In her basement we don’t
talk about this, we don’t talk about the birds, we make a circle of Raid
around us because that summer the centipedes came out too, and in
each other’s arms in the middle of the circle we laugh that nothing can
reach us, even the spiders gasp then curl up at the edge. Shouldn’t have run
that’s probably what killed it: at the vet they tell me the bird is dead, and I am
sweaty and panting with this weight in my hands, so they tell me they can try
to find a heartbeat for $60 and I have no money and when I try not to cry they say
don’t worry it’s dead why worry? Still I am feeling in my hands the inside of that
planet, pushing itself to the outside, only it really was cars and the bird’s last
flutter only I didn’t know it then. After I walked more slowly.
After I dreamed of flying slipping quietly through adjacent clouds.
Farryl Last is a 2015 MFA graduate from Hunter College, where she now teaches. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot, great weather for MEDIA, Hoot Review, and The Intentional, among others.
Featured Image Credit: A Dead Bird, Paul Sandby