from the desert, once a week

I am woken around one in the morning to the sound of a bird in pain. I have never heard a bird in pain. Their voice—a quail’s, I think—is strangled. Their call is slowed down and dragged out. They sound, again and again, slower and slower, more and more in pain in a sound I can’t make, for reasons I don’t know.

Half awake, I wonder if they have been caught by a snake or if their family has been annihilated. These are the only two scenarios I can imagine.