Yesterday the nestling stood in the safety of its woven basket and looked to the world as though it was something foreign and too far away for any effort it might make.
And this morning, it was still there, standing on the edge of its nest, while the parents called — as they did yesterday — insistently from trees not too far from the house. It’ll fly today, I said, knowing that it was thirteen days old.
Ten minutes later, we were drinking coffee in the kitchen, when we saw a clumsy bird kind of careening by the big windows. And of course the nest was empty. All day it’s been fluttering around, with the parents scolding and encouraging — well, I have to imagine this is what they’re doing. At one point, Angie saw it on the driveway, pecking at something on the ground. Going over, she found a tiny snake, dead, and who knows whether the parents brought it for their gangly offspring or whether said offspring caught it on its own.
At my desk, I reached for poetry. Stanley Kunitz. There is so much of the world in his work — gardens, the textures of summer, the small and large deaths, and the rich language of the human heart. The book opened, not surprisingly as I’ve read it so many times, at my favourite Kunitz poem, “The Layers”:
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feasts of losses?
In the meantime, Brendan is here for two nights and I listen to him and his sister laugh in another part of the house while I sit and think about a single surviving nestling and how it hovered in our lives for the past two weeks. Our table is set for dinner guests, our roses finally deadheaded — we hadn’t wanted to do it for fear of disturbing the small family living in their tangle — and summer accumulates in every hour of sunlight.