Jetstream, and a bird story

Updated: Jan 29, 2021



Jetstream


Clouds swim in the second sea,

floating in an ocean of air.

Their waters rise and fall,

and the wind is their tide.

I am their shore

and the mountains

their tidepool.


What about whales

you ask?

No whales, I say -

just stars

and hummingbirds

swimming in the breeze.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I wrote this poem on July 30, 2017, while taking United flight 5665 from Eugene to Denver. (This photo is looking east over San Francisco Bay, but it fits.) I was thinking about how the sky is a kind of ocean, a vast world with its own life and tides. Even the term "jet stream" points toward the oceanic nature of the sky.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Just as fish swim in the sea, birds swim in the air, moving in all three dimensions - except when they mistake a large window for more sky. What can you do when you hear the terrible bang of a bird hitting a window, head-on at full speed, and see a small figure plummeting to the ground? You can't bear to look outside - is the bird stunned? Dead? Yet I must look. Is it still alive? And if so, will it survive?


A small desert sparrow makes this mistake this morning, crashing into the reflection of the sky in our very very large living room window, and falling straight to the ground.


I pause, not wanting to look. I look, and see a still figure, seeming to breathe.


I put on my shoes and coat and go outside. He or she is stunned, but breathing and looking around in a half-conscious way. This is the third bird that's lived through this mistake in the past few weeks, and I dread that this time the bird might not be so lucky, falling from such height. I bend over, and see it breathing, and blinking its eyes, but otherwise not moving. I remember my routine: I pick it up - eversogently - with my own breathe willing it to keep breathing. Then, the miracle of it - I cup it in my hands, covering it mostly with my left hand so it won't lurch out and fall again. The bird - some desert finch? - blinks and looks around. There is no struggle. My mind asks, What if it's really hurt? Oh please, let it just be stunned, like some of the others.


I straighten up. I blow gently on him - or her - since it is cold outside, and pause, watching. Will she struggle? Will she return to the sky soon, or not? I hold her and stand still, the both of us still and waiting.

I stop the whatifs and took her inside and put her in a box in the laundry room so she could recover her wits. After a while, I looked to see how he or she was doing, and saw that there was more brightness in its eyes, and it was looking around. We went back outside and I put the box down. A few minutes later, he or she flew energetically to the closest tree, and the morning's drama was over.


And am I responsible since I love the view from this enormous window that draws everyone's gaze toward Sedona's famous red rocks?


46 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All