I want to save it (a short story from St. Lourbès)

Tu veux montrer l’oiseau à ton père? la mère a dit à son enfant.


You want to show your father the bird? the mother said to her child.


A small child led his father by the hand. They walked into the garage and toward a small cardboard box. The father picked up the box and brought it to three of us standing at the entrance. Gently, he unwrapped the puzzle pieces that kept the bird in the dark inside.


He has been there since the morning, the mother explained.


I peered inside to see a song thrush. The thrush are my favorite of the bird families. They are so delicate and unassuming. Their plumage is often quite simply. They are elusive and difficult to find. Yet their voices are the most beautiful flutelike notes you will hear in the bird world.


He has a broken wing, the father explained to the child.


We have to let him go.


He carefully lifted the bird out of the box and placed it onto the ground. It moved quickly away from us.


I felt an inexpressible pain and sense of mortality watching this small bird walk and hop away from us, periodically instinctively spreading its wings to fly, as if this time those bones and feathers may lift it into the air. Did it know that they never would? I felt a pang in my heart watching it and wondering. Our birding companion’s children wanted to save it.


Je veux le soigner, a tiny voice called out as the child was led back inside by his mother.


I want to save it.


I could feel my own heart in those words and that pleading voice.


Many times, I have tried to save birds. I kept a surly pigeon with a broken wing for years before a friend’s dog abruptly ended its life.


We stood and watched the delicate song thrush move into the grass, stop, look around, and carry on. The juxtaposition of the four of us standing there, knowing this bird would more than likely not survive, was almost too much to bear.

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