from the desert, once a week

A bird calls. I forget to listen to it. Someone else answers. More bird, better bird, good bird.

It hurts and I don’t say anything. Silent bird, quiet bird. I just don’t have it in me right now. Little bird.

I play records and the sky is on fire. I can crawl into the corner of my apartment and have a window and it is lovely in the way anything we never thought we would have is lovely.

I make decent coffee and swallow these pills and make eye contact with my cat and listen to the same song twenty, thirty times. Nesting bird, chirping bird. Cactus wren or verdin, sweet verdin, little yellow head.

Name it grieving, this giving yourself over to the person you’re trying to grieve, again. Wrong bird, domesticated bird, bird who plucks its own feathers, lifts it neck away from itself, says the same one or two words, won’t leave an open cage.

I talk to the creosote and the juniper, cup it in my palm and say thank you. I watch when its windy and think ah, everything is waving at me. I believe the mountain loves me. I tell the road runners good job. I tell the rabbits I love them very much. Lovely bird, bird with bright feathers. Beautiful bird, if you ever watched her.

Bird who does not. Bird who sings and it sounds pretty. Bird who makes me glad I opened the window.

My phone dings. My phone makes a human sound. I read what a friend has to say and I respond:

We are not to be these “fixed” humans. Messy isn’t broken. You’re allowed to show up in the world like this.

And I think about the birds, who do not despair. Who do not want to be human, who don’t care about being watched, who make their sounds because they can. Who have routines and their small joys. Lapis sky come again, soft ground.

Free bird.

OVERDUE: Recknoning with the Public Library forthcoming from Chicago Review Press March 22, 2022 •