Brazil Interrupted by Robins

As I’m about to post the final catch about Brazil, I am interrupted by robins. 

In the midst of my habit of looking down, I look up.

On the second storey of my cottage, resting against the gutters, is a nest.

I climb out my bedroom window to the roof. There are three eggs. Their readiness presses the air.Hardy Nest - 1

The next day, on the rough ground outside my back door, there’s the jagged half shell of an empty blue egg. So, it’s happened.

I go to the roof again. They’ve hatched. To my surprise, they’ve survived.

The birds, if I could even call them that, don’t have an outside but only a bloody transparency. Are they ready for life, with their huge black and unseeing eyes?

And the following day they have skin and a skiff of feathers. How beginning they are. And are there only two? And if two, where’s the other?

The birds’ eyes make up most of their unwieldy heads. And they seem to open their entire selves to gasp the air in search of food.

These new things stabbed their shells, kicked them off, determined to get out. And they did. Their heads are cleft figs. The mother looks around, furtive, and then pierces the food into their mouths. She is feeding a beating heart.

Six days later, as I climb back inside the window, my foot catches on the sill. I am smashed down against a chair. Breathless with pain, I can’t raise my left arm.

I fell into my house, a nest. I damaged my arm, a wing.

I have to go back to the city for a few days. When I return, walking to the cottage, I see what I didn’t want to see: the desiccated body of a baby robin in front of me on the path. I have more sorrow than sight. I cannot imagine what happened. The bird couldn’t have tried to fly, because it had only bones for wings. It wasn’t eaten by a predator. It must have fallen from the nest.

I am confined by belief and disbelief. I believe when I look in the nest again, the remaining birds will be dead. I disbelieve that there is a through-line of life between then and now.

Off the path there is a large stone within the salal and ferns. I dig a hole and place the bird’s body in it, and cover it with earth. The first dead bird has a headstone.

Reluctantly, I go back out through the window to the roof.

But two of them are there. My shadow over the nest makes the birds think I am its winged mother. Their mouths are the gape of an open crocus, gold-vermillion, gashed.Hardy Birds are Hungry - 1

Three days later, the nest is empty. It’s coming apart now, strewing and slurring down the side of the house.

My friend, who is far away, tells me that today a robin sat on her windowsill, pecking at the glass, as though wanting to build a nest within.

Hope takes wing.