It faded bit by bit in a garden pail
padded by my wife with towels.
She cleansed the wound, daubed
head and beak, she coaxed.
Hours later, the bird still breathed,
its life a shade too wide to fit its fate.
Then, late afternoon, it quit.
I lack a soul, it seems. I proposed
from the start to take the spade, lift
the body from its mantle of ants,
gently feed a hole in the yard.
I spoke of a misery—timeless,
abstract—out of which we should find
the courage to put the thing. My wife
could not agree. Tiny, slack-winged,
vaguely blue, it had been brought
just short of death by a parent
long on mouths to fill. Or,
if you prefer, by a mortal foe—
hawk or owl. Though one of these
would have carried it off.