A Bird with a Broken Wing Can Never Fly

chickadee in outdoor balsam bower

A little girl

scooped him up…

Oh, a broken wing.

She was old enough

to know chickadees

 who couldn’t fly

ended up dead.

NO, screamed the child.

By the time

the adult took over

the deed was done.

I prepared a room

for him in the house…

placed balsam boughs

inside the cage.

We were going to save him.

 At first we imagined

healing, though

no one we spoke to concurred.

A week spent watching

a captive wild bird

frantically clinging to mesh,

cheeping piteously

as he tried to escape

changed both our minds.

The adult must kill him.


Then a boy we love 


“It’s not up to you

to end his life,

you didn’t break

his wing.”

A curious perspective.

One that dove –tailed with

  an idea of mine….


I might release him

to a safe outdoor space –

Oh, I didn’t expect him

to live very long,

but at least he

would have a few hours,

maybe days, before

dying among his kin?

 Acting on the boy’s remark

 we three dragged up

  the storm toppled

 balsam spire,

 tucked the tree

into a protected corner

of the house…

I hung feeder and fat,

placed water on a nearby log.

By then it was dark…



My body shrunk.

I didn’t even know

 if I could do it.

Hung on a fish- hook

of my own making

earlier that day,

I owned that my decision,

though swayed by the child’s

deep compassion,

was more about the adult

than the bird.

Call it a savior complex.

I got caught by my own need.

Who was I 

to interfere?

Nature routinely sacrificed


for the many.


has little meaning

when survival

requires keeping

one’s focus

on the Whole –

A hard lesson. 

Excruciatingly painful

to learn.

Over and Over.

Leopold was right.

“Naturalists live

in a world of wounds

that only they can see.”

Or feel. 

 Deep Space

held no comfort.

The stars were absent.

No way was right.

Anticipatory grief

is an illusion.

I was steeped in suspension

Enduring the night.

When Lily cooed

at dawn*

it was time.

I carried the cage

out to the tree.

Unzipped the flap.

My little bird was free.

Chick a dee dee dee.

 piercing full bellied

cries brought excited

calls from his kin.

Many inhabited

this particular neighborhood.

He was home at last –

with friends 

If only to say goodbye.

A bird with a broken wing

can never fly.

*Lily b is free flying housed dove who has spent countless time in the wild in his 30 years and always returned… he routinely reads my mind.

3 thoughts on “A Bird with a Broken Wing Can Never Fly

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