“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


birdless in the jungle

saturday morning and she has captured a mockingbird, running fast through the yard and the monkey grass, running toward me with this gift of feathers in her mouth. i make it to the open front door just in time, closing it; she is confused, staring at me, green green eyes over those sadly still feathers, but only for a moment.  she turns, rounding the corner for the open bathroom window. it is a gift she must give me - i see it in those eyes - but i lower the bathroom window before she gets there and head outside.

she is in the side yard, spitting tiny breast feathers from her mouth, and the bird is on its back in the hot morning grass, mostly unharmed, breathing fast, not moving, in shock. skye sits several feet away, watching me. we are separated by the breaths of this bird.  this gift.

i turn the bird over, still on the ground, cradling it. one eye is slightly damaged and i wonder if it can see, wonder if a one-eyed bird can fly, how that might affect its depth perception. the cat is calm, rubbing against me, happy.  no way to explain to her i'd rather see the bird in the trees, hear its song, no way to explain to her my silly notion that birds are messages from my mother - pagan as this cat is, she would bring me another.  a love letter from her. 

i remove my hand and the bird makes a running-almost-flying attempt at a getaway and skye is on it again, but too late. the bird manages to skitter into the nether reaches of an overgrown holly bush, coming to rest between close growing stalks on the ground.  the cat can't get to her, but settles in for the wait. i can't reach the bird, i can't deter the cat - i can't get to her either - so i walk away, hoping she will follow.  she doesn't.

10 or 15 minutes pass and i see skye lying in the shade under my jeep.  she is birdless.  i step back out to the holly bush and the mockingbird is still there, alive but just heartbreakingly so, breathing a bit easier, but still, that eye.  i push my way in through the leaves and gather it into my hand.  its breath doesn't quicken at my touch and that is either a bad thing or good, it is either too far gone or knows me as friend, but i don't think beyond that - i find a low lying branch on the hackberry tree, but not too low, and it scooches slowly from my hand and hops up one more branch out of my reach - i like that, but when i step away it looks lost.  scared.  exhausted.  i don't know if it will make it.

5 more minutes and i check again.  it is still there, still breathing.  it has turned to look upward into the higher branches.  10 more minutes and it flies away, and while i am delightedly doublechecking, skye brings a lizard into the house and lays atop it to prevent me from taking away this prize. 

it may look civilized out there, neat, lawns mowed, edges trimmed, but it's a jungle.  never think otherwise.



  1. love, LOVE this story....lizards, birdies, and kitties..OH MY!

  2. Beautifully written, but the scenario seems all too familiar. Birds and lizards -- always when my back was turned -- then she would rip them apart (thankfully) in my bathroom.

    Sad to say that Kitty went missing 7 days ago and is presumed to have passed away. Can't find her anywhere. Would like to give her a proper send-off. And it has been painful -- very painful. My experience with love is not very extensive, but this cat has brought me more love than I probably ever deserved. Kittyland is one lonely place today. Thank you for letting me share that with you.

  3. Mmmm. Yes, that end made me take pause. It is a jungle indeed & who knows how life prays to itself?

  4. Oh what a jungle we live in. skye knows how to survive. do we need to take lessons from her or try to live in peace, but starving?

    skye reminds me of mama kitty I had so long ago. she was thrilled to bring a crying, baby rabbit home to me. how sad not to be able to rescue it, it still remember the cries.

    Yes, it is a jungle.

  5. I could feel the anxiety of the bird, the stealth-ness of skye, and your emotional frustration & concern. Excellent writing!

  6. This is written so beautifully, so breathtaking! I so no the emotions in the story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  7. it is a jungle out there, always the circle of life, circling like a buzzard. but i smiled at that mockingbird, i think even with one eye it will still know how to sing all those many songs.

  8. oh, you gotta love the heart of a cat - so purre. mine placed a not-quite-dead fly on my pillow for me and not-so-gingerly woke me up to appreciate it with her. she was utterly confused when i responded to her gift of love by leaping off the mattress while emitting a glass-shattering squeak.

    loved this!

  9. Oh, it's a warzone out there, no doubt about it. My heart was crying for that little bird. Funny how I can get attached without even seeing the poor little thing. I hope all will be well, even without perfect eyesight.


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