The early morning stillness is shattered by a percussive thunk against the bay window. It brings the pup onto all fours out of a sound sleep and sends the cat flying from my lap for the high protection of the counter.
I don't need to look up from the paper to know what I'll find. Don't want to look up, but can't not. This was not a gentle ting against the glass that might result in a confused fluttering back to the bird feeders. This was too hard. Too hard to be survived. Too hard to be a siskin or junko.
My eyes rest on two small gray breast feathers clinging to the window. Backlit by the light blue promise of a sunny day. Nothing else.
I get up reluctantly. Hoping to see nothing. Hoping against hope that whoever hit has flown. Hopeless hope.
A varied thrush twitches on the ground where she landed. Eye closed under an orange brow. Long black beak opening and closing in an almost peaceful rhythm. Tangerine and gray body heaving, struggling. Impossibly thin feet curled against the winter-dull grass. Her one exposed black and orange chevron wing spread but oddly still - the pattern strikingly beautiful.
I don't know what to do. I say I'm so sorry over and over. But I don't move. Anything I might do will only increase or prolong her suffering. And so I stand witness. I watch her body struggle to hang on to life and then gradually release life. I open my heart to share her pain. I wait with her until there is no more movement.
As I turn away I'm surprised by the tears that tumble out of my open eyes. I wonder why I'm crying for a single winter bird when I can't cry for much larger suffering. Much greater loss.
My childhood suffering. The suffering of friends and family. Suffering inflicted globally, intentionally and ignorantly in the name of gods and power and right and wrong.
I move back into the day with the tears as companions. A day spent home to rest my voice which has been hoarse for the last week. I'm carried by the ebb and flow of the tears and surprised by what calls them into fresh surges. A gift from a new friend. Thoughtful words of kindness from an old friend. The sweet comfort of Toby's kisses.
The day is only half gone. My voice is stronger. The thrush's gift is received.