A bright light. A Crack echoed through the forest! Then Miss Robin was falling. It felt as though someone had pulled the earth from out beneath her feet. Between tumbles, she saw a puff of smoke off in the distance of an upside-down forest, heard one of her brothers squawk as he passed her by, felt a cascade of egg shells on her shoulders, felt her bladder empty and hit her on the left wing, saw the sun through the treetops three times, and all of this before the sharp thorns of a bramble bush clumsily broke her fall.
She rolled two times, and looked up between her legs at the sky. The branch. The nest hanging, swinging on a hinge of rotted twine. She didn't want to see it anymore, so she slumped over to her side. She was hurting. It felt as though something had fiercely twisted her left wing around behind her back.
"Chip!" she cried, startling herself.
Was that her? She'd forgotten she could make that noise. It felt good to do it.
"Chip! Chip!" she cried again.
Any moment, she thought. Any moment and Ma would swoop down and take her back to her nest, fill her tummy up with grasshoppers, and take away this agonizing pain. Was this part of the learning process? Did her siblings have to endure it as well? A strange world this is where a Mum fills your tummy and then pushes you out of your cozy little nest.
I wasn't quite ready for that, can I have a warning next time? Thank you Mum, I've learned my lesson, so what now?
She waited for what seemed like hours. Strangely, she wasn't hungry anymore. The hollow pangs of hunger were replaced with sharp twinges of pain in her left wing. She hobbled onto her feet. How do these things work? She took a few hops and fell over onto her injured wing.
'Mustn't do that again,' she thought, righting herself.
This view was foreign to her. She felt vulnerable. All of this open space; perhaps tall and ominous to a grasshopper, yet wide and inviting to a bird.
A few more hops and this time she didn't fall over.
A few more hops and this time it was easy.
Now her legs were carrying her about on their own. It was her first adventure. Surely, the first of many. The forest revolved around her endlessly and made her feel kind of dizzy and nauseous at the same time.
"Chip! Chip!" she called out. She didn't know she could be that loud. The forest echoed in reply. She ducked under a tree branch and hopped over a stump. It was kind of fun.
"Chip! Chip!" Where are you, Mum? "Chip! Chip!" Where are you, Pa? Come out, come out, wherever you are.
Then she saw an ant march along. It stopped when it saw her. She hopped over to it and as she reached down to pick it up, it marched away in the opposite direction as quickly as it could go. She closed on it fast, but then her little feet got turned around and she lost sight of it. The forest made a circle again and she saw the little ant swerve and dart around a rock. She hopped over to it, sure of herself that it was as good as in her tummy. Behind the rock, its little feelers showed themselves, twiddling, undulating. Now she saw his fat little head. Saw the pincers opening and closing. She leaned down toward it and he jumped up and clung to her beak.
"Chiiiip!" she cried, spiralling around in little circles. Its beady little eyes peered back into her own. She swung it around, but it wouldn't let go. She poked it into the ground and buried it up to its neck. Its little body segmented and twisted apart at the thorax.
Then it let go.
She saw another ant. Then another. They formed a little marching band. She hid beneath the branch and watched them perform.
That was when she noticed him. One of her siblings, sprawled out on his back. The little row of ants led up to him and he was almost covered in little black ants.
She suddenly had the feeling that she was alone, though she'd never experienced aloneness before. And now she felt lost, too. She didn't know what to do with herself so she started to run in no direction in particular, but her eyes wouldn't go in the same direction as her feet. The forestscape scrolled by horizontally in her vision, while her suckling feet traipsed clumsily over and over each other.
Suddenly, there was nowhere for her to run. She was dizzy and torn. She'd seen too much. Too young, and so helpless!
A flash of light, a blast with a distant echo, and a single puff of smoke. She saw them clearly in her mind, and they would replay in her often throughout her life.
There was simply nowhere else for her to go but... UP!
As though she possessed a secret knowledge from within, her muscles and tendons flexed in her arching back.. But then, pain!!
"Chip! Chip!" she called out, reflexively.
She was boxed in. There was nowhere for her to go.
To Useless Shard #4 ⇒
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All poems and stories on this web page are (C)Copyright 1996 - 1999 by Ronald Rand.