I Don't Remember So Many Birds
he leaves are at last in bud, and the birds are coming back to the fruit trees next door.
I remember how my father used to bird-watch at our old cottage. "That one is a nuthatch," he would say, putting down his binoculars. I would avoid all eye contact, while my mother assumed an interest she could not have possibly had. This morning a bird has my attention right now, a sparrow-like thing with a red head and orange breast. It is wonderful, and it does not inspire me to reach for my copy of Birds of the Northwest, wherever it is.
A seagull swoops by. Hannah points up. "What's that?"
"Seagull," I say, pulling her into a tighter ball in my lap.
"My feets are cold." I cover them again with the yellow and brown blanket, taking the opportunity to squeeze her tiny feet in one hand.
"Skytrain!" she shouts, picking out the whirring sound in the distance.
"Can you hear that bird?"
She doesn't at first. "Oh," she says, "They loud this morning."
"Yes." I say.
I can't stop thinking about my wife's affair.
It happened because she was bored.
We watch the birds twitter around the branches and fall back into the sky. There are more birds this spring than I can remember.
First published: February 1998