Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Bird in the House

A visitor who wanted to go home.
My mother and I conduct a passive war by making alternating guerrilla assaults on the thermostat. She fights for an endless supply of conditioned air, even when the temperature outside might be a perfect 72°. My secondary assaults on the thermostat keep the utility bill from leaving our solar system. I turn off the CACH when it's unnecessary and moderate its use when it is.

The other day she had turned on the air conditioning, for which I conceded the season has already arrived (in Central Texas, with Stark-like trepidation, we say, "Summer is coming"). Since the remodeling, we have French doors leading from the den, the room across the back of the house, to the outdoors. Just outside the door there are brickwork steps where we keep a bowl of water and a pan of dry food for the feral cats. I went into the kitchen, and I saw that in the den she had opened the French doors wide. I thought perhaps she, as she sometimes does, was trying to lure some of the cats inside to give them a taste of domesticity.

"Why have you turned on the AC and opened the doors? You should do one or the other but not both at the same time."

"There's a bird in here, and I'm trying to get it out."

But she was fluttering about the door herself, so if there was a bird—a story that I took with a grain of salt, considering her dementia—it would come nowhere near the door. It would hide in the shadows.

So she looked unsuccessfully for the bird that day and the next. Then on the evening of the third day—well, on my schedule it was evening; it was really about three in the morning—I was walking out of my room and down the dark hallway, and from out of nowhere this bird suddenly flutters by my head. I thought for a moment I was being attacked by a bat. At that point the bird and I parted ways—I went on to make my pit stop, and though I wouldn't know for several hours yet, the bird flew into my room where the lights were on. Yet I suspected the bird might be with me because of the lights, and I had left the door open while I was out.

This morning while I was at my desk, the bird appeared on my window sill. Occasionally it would hover in the air and try to get through the glass. I moved slowly and carefully, picked up a shawl that has been in my room for weeks now, seemingly with no purpose, and tossed it over the bird. Then moving quickly, I was able to wrap the shawl around the bird.

I held the shawl gently, trying my best not to damage the delicate living thing I had wrapped in it, and walked out onto the front porch. Then I began unwrapping, hoping to get a glimpse of the bird in my hands, but as soon as I drew away the last necessary fold, the bird flew instantly away in a flutter of feathers. All that drama ended that quickly.


The collection of my poems, Counting Stars at Forty Below, will be substantially discounted between 13 and 20 May. The discount will be best on the 13th. Each day afterwards the price takes a small step back toward the original price, which it will reach on the 20th or 21st. If you like the poems I've been publishing on my Monday blogs, now is your chance to seize the book for a good price.