It was a devastating find for them both, but especially when together.
It would’ve been a fine little bird, but now — hairless and eyes unopened — it was a quivering mass on the mid-morning-hot cement. They stared down at it, willing it, but only hope would fly away from here today.
“Should we step on it — put it out of its misery?”
She wondered why anyone thinks that a solution instead of just more cosmic violence against a helpless thing! Besides, neither one of them could’ve lived with that action. She thought him marvelously brave for offering, and marvelously glad she’d said “No.” He was all-over marvelous.
She sat down cross-legged beside the poor thing. After the last time, when they hid nearby for a whole hour, they knew the mama-bird would never come for it. They didn’t even look up. It would be better just to stay with it, shade it, die a bit with it — though it would’ve shocked them to realize it in that way.
“Help me lift it onto my lap?” He gingerly lifted it up and put it in her waiting cupped hands. He sat down beside her without taking his eyes from the bird. How large the eyes! How tiny the wings! He stroked its head with one finger.
She needed a sound that would comfort, because for sure, human voices wouldn’t. She thought of her grandmother humming hymns to rowdy kittens who did not wish to be rocked to sleep, but who caved in so beautifully to it. Grandmother hummed in French Canadian, though, so she’d have to pick something else..
They rocked a bit as she hummed.
Two old ladies passed by. When they heard the tune and saw its odd little reason, they kept their comments to a quiet, sincere, “Aw..” Thankfully. Thankfully, most old ladies are like that. They know.
The little being had found its sleep long before all the verses of “Kumbaya” were finished, but neither of the two had noticed. They were thinking of endless fields and cotton and quiet sunsets. Too quiet.
“Here, you hold him while I get up.” She let him carry the burden until they got to the nearest tree. She waited. He placed the bird at the foot of the tree. She covered it over with leaves and acorns and some pulled grass. So did he.
Neither one of them could ever bury a thing.. nope, never.
They looked at one another, held hands for a moment. There was no way to salvage this day.
“See you tomorrow?”
“Yes,” he said, “I’ll be by first thing.”
“Alright.” She knew he’d find a different shortcut for them by then. They would never pass through this graveyard again.