Tonight The Birds Fell Like Leaves
They came down like hail, like a hard rain, falling out of the trees by the handfuls. Black ones, red one, blue ones. They hit like stones, bouncing onto the grass in the back yard, dropping into the flowers, rolling down our small hill, coming to rest on the paved patio as if they're guests late to the party.
We stood under the covered white porch, listened to them hit the roof. Even the feral cats ran away, hiding under the green blooming bushes, afraid of what nature was doing to all of us.
Why is this happening? I asked. My girlfriend shook her head. I've never seen anything like it, she replied.
When we had first moved to this house, a blue one-story rental, we talked about how many birds seemed to live in the trees above the yard, a cacophony of song and sound. The feral cats would gather like kids waiting for the ice cream truck to arrive. We hung squirrel-proof bird feeders, ones that would close when the weight of the squirrel hung on it. We hung little round red sugar water treats for the hummingbirds and we made a bird bath in the back yard out of a glass baking pan on top of an old tree stump. We'd sit out at night as the dark approached and listened to the settling down of the birds, from raucous to dreamily dozing as the sun faded and the dark came.
We thought this paradise. It was early in the relationship. Our first house together. Everything fresh and alive.
But then the birds died and we didn't know how to handle it and when it came to clean them up, the stiff feathered bodies spread across our yard, we looked at each other with indifference, yearning for the happy sounds we once heard when night came and the birds nestled their heads under their wings to ready themselves for a new bright day.