Everyone is Hooking Up With Everyone

Last week I found a bloody bird on the street. I had an appointment to take Target to the vet, because he wasn’t feeling well, and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have time to do both — to rescue the bird and get Target to his appointment. But I ran home and found a shoebox for the bird. It looked scalped. I was sure it was near death. Later, I learned It was a baby pigeon. I called my vet to see if she would let me bring the bird when I brought Target, but she said she doesn’t treat birds because they carry diseases. So I postponed Target’s appointment, and got in a taxi with the bird. “Please, hurry,” I begged the sweet cabdriver. We raced across town to the Wild Bird Fund, a hospital for birds on Columbus and 87th Street. I’ve taken birds there before, the last a dehydrated baby starling in the spring, but this bird was in terrible shape, and I burst into tears as I arrived. I felt like an idiot, crying like that but couldn’t stop, not even when a kind doctor came out and told me that the bird was in bad shape but might survive. He was still strong. They put him in an incubator to warm him up. If he was stable in the morning, the doctor would operate, stitch his scalp back together. I couldn’t believe it. I’d taken him for nearly dead, but the doctor sounded hopeful. They named him Carson (they name all rescues after rescuers). I haven’t had the nerve to go back yet, to find out if he made it. But I may go tomorrow if I can get up the courage.

(Update: Carson the baby pigeon didn’t make it, unfortunately. I learned his wounds were caused by other birds in the nest. The vet I spoke with said she’d never seen quite so severe an injury, but sibling abuse in the nest is quite common. He was euthanized the morning after I brought him in when it was decided he was too badly injured to survive.)

This is all so gruesome, I know. I blame Julia for my choice of subject matter. Or rather her recommendations of beautiful, dark fiction. I think I shouldn’t read any more of it. I can feel it in the flow of these words. The protagonists are always struggling to survive.

It’s hot and humid tonight but I’ve turned off the air conditioner, opened the windows. Without the roar of it, it’s almost silent here. I hear the click of the keyboard as I type, far away sounds of traffic. It’s just getting dark at 8 p.m. Outside, the maple tree trembles in the breeze. Maybe it’s cooler out there. I could be sitting closer to the window, at my table, but instead sit on the floor, back to the sofa, computer on the glass coffee table, sweating. A candle burns, smells of lemongrass and wax. It’s reflected in the mirror over the fireplace. I gave the TV that used to hang there to J. who says he’s been watching Bachelor Island or some such thing. “Everyone is hooking up with everyone,” he tells me.

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