Setting Free the Birds

Setting Free the Birds


I was the smoking monitor for ten patients, in the screened porch one day.

I lit their cigarettes. They smoked and we talked.

Next to me sat gracious, sweet southern born Clara, her ankles swollen twice their size, blue, onion thin skin, ripped and torn, wrapped in gauze.

Deserted by her children,  she lives in a movable lounge chair forever her prison, crying, ‘’Help, help,’’ all night, every night.

Suddenly two female cardinals streaked past attaching themselves to the screen in front of us, their tails fanned, the sun highlighting beautiful shades of brown with red streaks.

Desperate to escape they skittered from panel to panel.

I herded them toward the opening saying,  ‘No, go that way!” or  ‘’No, go back!”

First one found freedom, curved upward and disappeared.

Confused, the other flew past the opening moving further away from freedom.

I moved past and with hands raised shouted, “It’s your turn now GO!”

She dropped from the screen, scooped low and was absorbed by the pale blue sky.

Turning toward Clara I watched tears of despair spill over onto her cheeks.

When our eyes met, I knew exactly how she felt.

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