I woke to rapid flapping, the air cold
the time unknown. The dog’s paws tapping
on chill hardwood floor. Sudden
commotion. Jumping to corral what was
assumed to be an animal fight, I find
a California Towhee in my dining room.
Frantic, frightened. Brisk movement in her
wings making the room that much more frigid.
I stammer to her. Follow her room to room
as she attempts to fly her way out of walls
until she finally calms, allowing me to cup her
into my hands. We sit together outside
on a frosty concrete step. My bare feet
settling on top of wet fall leaves, gathering
the taste of morning in my mouth, the scent
of rain and dirt. She catches her breath.
My thumb softly wrapped around her chest
feeling her heart rate regulating, her eyes opening,
her fear receding. Leaves rustle, wind and traffic
move along while she and I watch each other
in a place where time moves slower than the rest
of the world. Her eyelids the color of peach
and terracotta. Her body the rusty hue of autumn.
Her eyes the same shade as mine, dark as loam.
I flatten my hand. She doesn’t move. We sit
together for what seems like hours. What seems
like fate when safety is reciprocated. Ten minutes
later she flies, stops on a dog-eared picket
and looks back. The dog quietly watches me.
How I love and let go all at once.

Copyright © Georgina Marie Guardado. Used with permission of the author.