There is a bird for that
When your baby has pneumonia and you have not slept for days, you will slip away for a few moments and head outside. For some silence. To cry alone.
That is the moment you need a bird, love.
I will send you one — a little sparrow that will land on your knee, keeping its bright little eye on you, watching you for one long moment of hush so that the old hymn lyrics will not be lost on you.
And when you watch the remains of a pregnancy you wanted slide like gelatin down the shower drain, complete with the bone-cracking pains of actual childbirth— you will need a bird then, too.
So I will send a shower of them — a crowd of squawking starlings at your bedroom window. They will keep you from napping too long, from disappearing into the sheets too long. Because today what you need is to feel. And to call your mom.
And when your marriage crumbles around you, when you brush your hair and it comes out in your hands, when three days in a row you notice dead songbirds bleeding on the sidewalk, when you need to be made into something new but you are hungry and weary and your feet feel like mud —
You will need lots of birds, dear.
Which is why a friend will hand you a late birthday gift — a painting of a wild-haired woman, her arms filled with doves, and Emily’s poem about hope and feathers.
You will walk into an art gallery and find a flock of ceramic Togoroz on a hidden shelf, and you will purchase each and every one despite your pitiful pocketbook.
You will find awe in a green bird hopping along the sidewalk, a bird you cannot identify, a non-native to the region. It will dawn on you that you are in the holy presence of someone’s newly freed pet, and you will laugh like a wild woman as you chase it up into the trees, away from danger, this uncaged thing with lungs for singing and the power to fly.
You will remember me in all of this.
You will ask someone to etch a swallow onto your ribs. So you will feel grounded — by the knowledge that you always have wings. So you will feel alive, knowing my breath is so close to your lungs. You will remember that I am always close by.
Of course, one day you will forget.
On this day you will find yourself standing on a country road, pulled over because you can’t see through the tears. The wind will rip at your hair, the sky will feel too big, you will feel too small, and the way the dark, unplanted fields march for miles before finally reaching the horizon will remind you how far behind you are trailing.
There is a bird for that.
Look up, child.
See that tree? Hear my voice. I’m the one singing loudly on the highest branches, my silhouette dark and fierce against the endless sky.
You wonder what kind of bird I am — a blackbird perhaps? I arch my back and shiver, then swoop down to the fields below. That’s when you know.
You laugh, and for a moment our voices are the only sounds on this road.
I am indeed a species of blackbird. But you only know the exact kind when I open myself to you, revealing the blaze of holy fire on my wings.