Monday, May 23, 2005

[random] That time of year: followup

It is really quiet outside our house this morning. Quite a noticible change, in fact. The baby raven? Dead. I was taking some trash out this morning when I saw it lying in the gutter. Last night, one of our neighbors told us that it had hurt one of its wings, and that they tried to feed it. No luck. I went inside and came back out with a trash bag. Instantly, Mom started cawing and crowing at me, the tempo and pitch rising the closer I got to her baby. It surprised me with its softness, which I could feel through the trash bag. Its baby feathers were more like inky down than sharp, spiky quills. Its head lolled about, its eyes were closed. There was a huge bare patch on the underside of one wing - probably the original injury. Its legs were red with raw, exposed flesh - these were new. Mom dove at my head, and took a perch on the telephone lines overhead, still screaming at me. Sorry, Mom. I'm not the predator here... I'm guessing it got hit by a car, or got run over by someone who didn't realize it had taken shelter under their tires. It was so quiet on our porch - sitting, blinking at us, not making a sound. It sags limply in my hands as I cradle it in the trash bag. It's bigger than I thought it would be - about a third the size of an adult. I look for any hint of life: a blink, a twitch, a shallow breath. Nothing. It's still warm, but not as warm as a live bird. One of its legs juts out stiffly, awkwardly, a grotesque counterbalance to the dangling head and beak. Raw pinkish-red skin shows in sharp contrast to the fluffy black feathers, broken white ends of pinfeathers clinging to the edges of wounds. Specks of brown and white bird shit flecked its feathers. Mom still screams at me, futilely. Sorry Mom. She swoops at my head again as I get up and start to walk to our trashcans. She follows me until I step through the gates at the bottom of our driveway and sits on our neighbor's roof, cawing still, but not coming closer. I give it one last exam, hoping against hope for a sign that it is alive. I get what I expect: nothing. The body is still warm, but cooling. I bundle it up in the bag, tying it tight. We're supposed to get warm weather this week... Mom keeps her distance as I return to our front porch empty-handed. She is still crying out her warnings, her curses, black avian imprecations flying as her baby never will. Sorry Mom. It is quiet outside our house this morning.


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