Lowering the Crane
I lower the big crane onto the sand in the open field across from the cottage. The instant its feet touch the ground its head drops back into the S position.
Before running around to the back, I stop and look into its eye one more time. I see no flicker of awareness. Instead, the same blank stare I saw when I first looked into its eye when? Was it less than an hour ago??
So many experiences crammed into such a short period of time!
I run to the back of the cottage where I tell Donna about the big bird. I tell her how beautiful it is. “Maybe it’s sick,” I tell her, “But, we can feed it frogs, nurse it back to health like you did with the baby squirrels.”
I run around the side of the cottage, anxious to get back to the crane. Halfway there, I turn and look behind. Donna stands motionless, her mouth agape, staring at the crane. .
She Strokes Its Neck
To reassure her I stand next to the crane, lightly touching its back.
The crane opens its eyes unfurls its long neck, while slowly turning its head left to right before staring straight ahead, motionless.
Unable to resist Donna caresses its long neck with the back of her hand, speaking to it in low tones, while asking me stupid questions like, did the bird act like it was sick?
I sense her feelings are warming to the subject so, I say to her. “‘Well Jeez, I don’t know mom. I’ve never met a sick bird before.” Her smile is soft … and caring.
Jake Willis, the old guy living on the opposite side of the curve three houses west appears out of nowhere. We become a group of three thinking indecision.
Jake isn’t saying much. He squints a little staring at the crane his thumb and index finger moving along his chin line, in deep thought.
Donna repeats her concern that the bird could be sick only this time, she looks to Jake for confirmation.
Jake asks me if the bird tried to stab me in the eye. I just stare at him.
They insist the bird could have blinded me. They tell me the bird is too sick to live.
I hate them for saying that. Who are they to decide whether another living thing should live or die?
They look at each other then back at me. Without saying a word I knew the verdict.
I look at the crane, its head feathers tousled by an on shore breeze.remembering the moment I saw its head above the cat tails such a short while ago.
Then I have an idea! I open my mouth to tell them I could take the crane back to the swale where I found it so it can die in peace. Alas! It’s too late. Jake is already more than halfway to the curve.
Next: Waiting For Death