Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Out the window I looked, across the yard and into the shed: a bird was beating its wings uselessly against the filthy glass, perplexed and stricken. It only had to turn, once, and see the enormous doorway and path to freedom. I sat with my cup of tea and considered performing a rescue. It was a familiar sight to me when growing up in Ireland; the creatures always, in the end, discovered the mistake and streaked with thumping glad heart into the sky.
This one fluttered and flapped and made powerful efforts to extricate itself from the puzzle.
Turn, turn, I whispered. There's the door, there's the sky: see them.
And then, a slick black shadow stirred underneath the window pane, among the cans of paint and old sweeping brushes and rusty tools.
The family cat was lurking: she had but one green eye, and it was trained, I knew, on the sparrow. The cat quivered, set her paws in line for a leap. The bird, busy trying to make sense of the obstruction, saw none of it, but continued to dash itself miserably against the glass.
The cat sprang; but by then my teacup had been abandoned with a clatter. I lunged at the cat just she flung herself on the twirling bird. I caught the cat in the air.
The bird, disturbed at the commotion, saw the cat, saw the human, saw the door with the blue sky beyond, and vanished in a moment. The cat wriggled in my arms, jaws still ready to receive lunch.
A small cloud of intermingled feathers and hairs made its exhausted way to the floor. The cat understood, suddenly, that I had cheated her. She gazed into my face with a terrific loathing shining from her single eye. A feather was plastered to her mouth; my hands were covered in cat hairs.
She scrambled away from me and snaked off, a dissatisfied black curl in the grass, and did not talk to me for the rest of the afternoon. And I was not sorry. I knew that she would forgive me by dinnertime.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 4:24 PM