The Artwork of Michael Divine

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Little (A Bird Story)

June 11th, 2007

We had a little light come into our lives in the form of a little bundle of feathers.

Violet had found him one evening as he darted about under the broad leaves of the sunflowers and squashes in the backyard. His parents chirped and squacked overhead while the little guy tried to fly but alas, found his body to be too heavy for his little wings. Flew the coop too soon!

After Violet decided we would have to keep him and take care of him, lest the cat eat him up, I went out to the pet store and got a little cage for him and the dude who had heard enough people coming in and taking care of little birds, told us to feed him cat food. High protein, he said.

Violet fed him with a toothpick and put a dark cloth over his cage in the evening. In the morning she was up early with him and had him back outside where is mom and dad would come and give him good through the day. Mockingbird parents are very protective of their young and will continue to feed them even if they are not in the nest.

Through the day the parents frequently land atop his little cage that hangs from the eave of the house. I can see their shadows upon the patio outside from my studio windows as they bring worms, seeds, bugs, shells left over by moths or butterflies.

That night we have him on my desk and he is perched on Violet’s finger and she feeds him by hand with him cheeping and opening his mouth wide to receive his food. He’s puffed his feathers all out and he looks like a little plump grey ball of down. He seems to smile and likes hanging out with us. Finally we put him in the cage and say good night to him…

The next day he is back outside… We decide that night to light the grill and bar-b-que some chicken, some vegetables… a delicious meal. Violet makes some potato salad. We have the grill lit, the chicken on, the afternoon is gorgeous…

After our meal, we sit in the evening sun, enjoying our wine, listening to the dusk sounds and then decide to go and check out the garden, see how the squashes and tomatoes and numerous other veggies, herbs, flowers are doing.

I climb the ladder up to Little’s cage to check on him and he is crouched on the floor of his cage, his tail in the water… not looking so good.

I take him down. We take him out of his cage. He is looking sick. what did we do? Did he drink his water wrong? Did he eat something bad? What happened….?

For the next three or four hours Violet held him in her hands as he shuddered, tried to breathe, convulsed every so often with his little black eyes going wide. She had tears streaming down her face as he died in her hands. We tried to give him the most comfortable death, the most peaceful, soft spot from which to leave the planet…

From much googling, I found that BIRDS ARE MADLY SENSITIVE TO SMOKE. So he died from smoke inhalation. What makes it so hard to take is that, when we sit with it, we realize that we killed him. Birds, especially baby birds, are highly sensitive to toxins in the air, hence the canary in the coal mine…

We buried him in the tomatoes next to his brother whom Fi had brought a day or two before and left a candle lit up on his little grave…

Suddenly, the house seemed a little emptier… Little may have just been a little stay bird fallen from a nest, but he was a living being, a piece of the divine in an animated fuzzily feathered form…

The Artwork of Michael Divine

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