Visitor

Mark came up the stairs to the second floor saying my name. “We’ve got a visitor,” he said with quiet wonder.

I went downstairs to see our visitor. It lay on a section of newspaper on the kitchen counter, Peterson’s open beside it to ‘Magnolia Warbler,’ the resemblance exact in its way, upper parts blackish, large white patches on the wings and tail, underparts yellow, but the actual yellow almost too intense to be describable.

He had found it on the ground below our large kitchen window and brought it inside.

I picked it up and held it in my open palm and it was strangely substantial for something that weighed so little. The backward-broken swing of its neck also seemed heavy, yet weighed nothing. All the way from Mexico or Panama on its migration north.

In the night I had dreamt about an old friend seated in a restaurant, her beauty restored and all the puffiness and heartache gone from her face. A dream inspired perhaps by the full-page photo in the Globe of a very young Audrey Hepburn with her pet fawn. Mel Ferrer said that for two months the fawn followed her around as if she were her mother. We don’t learn what happened after that.

These wild creatures come into our lives and then what? The Magnolia Warbler will go wrapped into our freezer next to the Blackburnian Warbler with its flaming orange throat that Mark found on his office steps a few years ago, while we ponder and soon forget. I’ll reach for ice cream or a stick of butter and have no idea what’s in that small bag until I pull it out and hold the frozen bird in my hand.

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