I walked on the grey sidewalk back to the parking lot of the physical rehab facility where they were trying to get my mom’s body back in shape, even as the cancer continued to consume her, to consume everything, when I heard it: a bird song so clear and melodic that I stopped to find the bird that made it.
I looked up at the top of a leaveless tree. It was a little bird, smaller than a robin, larger than a sparrow, its body mottled with tan and white feathers.
I stepped off the sidewalk in to the pale grass to take a closer look at the little bird. It had a swatch of red on the crown of its head, and a wisp of red feathers on its throat.
I do not know birds, or birdsongs, or much of anything, really, but when this little bird sang it was with a song much larger than the bird itself. From the beak of the tiny bird, it’s song expanded out beyond the branches of the tree where buds waited to blossom in to leaves. The bird’s melody was so large that it lifted me up with it, and carried me to the top of the tree and out to the sky. It carried me farther and higher than I could ever go by myself, and for a brief moment there was no room in the world for anything else, just bird and song and sky and me.
Then the little bird flew off, away from me, a flutter of wings bobbing along currents of air, taking its song with it, and leaving me standing in dull grass once more.
I stepped back on to the grey sidewalk and walked back to my car alone.
Tomorrow it would snow.
and if you’re here more for the comics than the prose (and who could blame you, really) you can always read the comics here)