The sun is out. It’s a beautiful spring morning for many, but for me it’s the start of another day to fill with busyness.
I pull my uncombed hair into a tight ponytail, roll my jeans up, and start taking out the lawnmowers, cans of lawn chemicals, and tools from the garage to hose winter’s salt and remnants off its floor.
The smell of water on dust, like the rain’s smell, is soothing.
After the garage, I move on to the porch. I am about to press the hose handle when I see her: a baby bird, still and tiny, lying in a pool of blood in the corner. Some grey feathers are strewn around her. Her never-opened, bulgy eyes are shut.
I look above at the swallow nest in the nook of the ceiling. It’s quiet.
Yesterday, I’d heard tiny chirps while weeding the front yard. No sound like a new life’s.
My body had lost a sound last week, at night, only two days after I’d heard it, strong and rhythmic, under the stethoscope. My body had endured shots of vitamin-D ─ thanks to Ohio’s scarce sun ─ for months, and a year-long hormone therapy for that sound.
My eyes are rocks, refusing to blink, and feet granite, mortared to the ground. This featherless, ginger pink body. This silent yellow beak. These lines of claws.
I want to protect her, stand guard against buzzards, but what if the mother is watching from somewhere, waiting for me to leave? With that thought, I lift my feet, and sit inside by the window, eyes fixed on her. I don’t even take a bathroom break.
It’s noon. Still, no mother or visitor.
The Ohio early May sun is gaining strength, casting heat on the bare body. I should do something, but how do I know how to handle someone else’s baby?
I had let my own baby whirl and drown in a pool of blood in the toilet bowl in front of my eyes.
My legs carry me out to the yard; my hands grab a trowel from the tools strewn outside the garage, and dig a shallow hole between the patch of tulips and the rosebush. Both are still budding. My left hand scoops the baby bird up into my right hand which lays her down.
This right hand had flushed the toilet that night, like an automaton, without even asking me.
After covering her with mud, I poke an orange-black metal butterfly, mounted on a thin metal post, into the earth.
There’s no marker for my baby.
The bloodstain on the porch where she fell is still there: an open wound. I look away and get busy with edging the flower beds.
Soon, gray, rumbling, clouds push out the sun. I quickly restore the garage’s contents and walk towards the front door, but my feet pause in the porch: the brown stain is being erased by the spring rain.
The rains, which I hold inside, start.
Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar is an Indian American. She was born in a middle-class family in India and will forever be indebted to her parents for educating her beyond their means. She now lives in the United States. She is a Pushcart nominee and her work has been published in The Ellipsis zine, The Former Cactus, Lunch Ticket, Star82 Review, Cabinet of Heed, and also in print anthologies. She blogs at Puny Fingers and can be reached at twitter @PunyFingers.