Solo Flight



A baby sparrow gently held in one curled hand, a black-bulbed glass eyedropper in the other. My Mom sat at the kitchen table, a homemade circular plywood affair she had tiled in concentric rings of tiny squares of white and blue and blue and blue on curving rummage sale chromed steel legs. On the table sat a rainbow glaze-splattered ceramic boomerang ashtray – also the work of her capable hands. A cigarette perched in one of four identical divots and unfurled an endless curling smoke tendril, rising to lose itself against the brown-stained white acoustic ceiling tiles above. Between the ashtray and the ever-present cup of black coffee sat a little bowl of milk with bits of floating white bread. The eyedropper inhaled another load of milk and bread and took careful aim at the gaping baby bird beak. “Hold still, dammit.” The bulging newborn swollen-closed eyes bulged a little more as the eyedropper was rammed deep down the tiny throat to disgorge its contents into the belly of the little bird.