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Sparrow 2

Ultimately, though, I cared too much about Riga’s opinion and couldn’t find a way out of the situation. I looked up Helen’s number and called her office. I told her the situation that I had on my hands – dying bird, impact trauma, certain death. She came down to my office with a brown paper bag, a net, and a pair of cloth gloves. For some reason, she was also wearing what looked like a safari hat. “To the rescue,” she said, altogether too loud given what had definitely been a bit of a funereal vibe. “I don’t know, Helen,” I said. That bird smacked the glass pretty hard. I don’t know what kind of powers you think that your paper bag will have on the condition of its spine. And I’m certainly no veterinarian. But it seemed to me that this is just a consequence of thoughtless development. It’s a metaphor for everything going on in the environment. Frankly it makes me feel a little bit sick to think about the way that our actions have these consequences.” At this point, Helen had climbed on a chair and was hanging out the window, putting the bird into the little net, which was on the end of a two-foot rod. She dumped the bird into the bag and then rolled the top closed. Of a sudden, the bag started moving and chirping. The bird had been resuscitated, brought back to life. “That’s incredible,” I said to Helen, who had taken off her hat. Involuntarily, I started to cry. There were tears coming out of my eyes. It had been a low-grade miracle to see the bird lying dead on the ledge, about to become the victim of my mercy. Now it was alive. “Where will you take it?” I asked Helen. “Of course, there are lots of places this little guy could go,” she said. But I think we’ll likely take it out to the suburbs. He’ll be happier there.” I blew my nose, relieved more than anything else. A flood of guilt had been washed over and out of me. The bird lived. Helen, who by the way just kind of looked like a bird, with small hollow bones and intense, dark eyes. Maybe she had descended from birds? I now know this to have been unlikely, but in the moment I was filled with wild ideas produced by my sudden total lack of guilt. It was 9:15 in the morning. I was already exhausted. I put the screen back in the window and cranked it closed. Outside, the sun had come up over the trees and a flock of birds sat in the oak that reached toward my window. I wiped my eyes and blew my nose. I thanked Helen as she left our office suite and then closed my eyes to prepare for my meeting. The day was rescued and the bird was free. The rest of the day, on small occasions when I felt exhausted, I thought of the bird, roaming in the suburbs and enjoying itself. Free! Ha. Free.

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