I Find a Child

by Eniko Vaghy

—inspired by the sculpture “Feather Child One” by Lucy Glendinning

Curled on its side, its skin suffocated
with feathers, as if one long intake
of breath had drawn them all towards it.
I am suddenly choking, pitched
above the wastebasket near my desk.
I gag and think of summer. I am seven,
befriend three children who live next door.
When we play in their yard, the eldest boy
spots a dead robin in the grass, a clean
hole the size of a dime burned through its chest.
His mother gets a plastic bag. The bird’s
soft outline stays pressed in the earth as
the trashcan lid falls shut. Years later, I grow
curious about my brother’s name. The first search
says it means “tiny dove.” I think: how perfect,
then never find it again. Only the Turkic loan word
for “remainder.” My brother returns when I see
the humble bow of the infant’s head, the plumage
dove-like in color and softness, fanning over him.
He looks like a mutilated bird a woman might choose
to throw away. I want to reach and comfort the child,
who seems wounded by the fact that, though made of feathers,
he cannot fly, but I am scared to touch, risk what might be
combustion, a dull impression that only I will understand.
I leave him nest-less, the bed of my palm
growing colder than the empty wind.

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