Sunday, April 26, 2009

`The Smudge of the Ashen Fluff'

We were watching a movie with the boys Friday evening when something crashed into the front window. Outside on the gravel was a motionless song sparrow. I lifted it by a wing and saw that it clutched a piece of gravel with each of its feet. One fell immediately and the other fell as I walked around the corner of the house and opened the gate. I lifted the lid on the plastic yard-waste bin and dropped the bird inside, where it landed on a bed of leaves and grass clippings. I felt lousy but didn’t want a neighborhood cat to tear it up and leave the mangled body for the kids to see. Naturally, I thought of the opening lines of “Pale Fire,” from the novel of the same name:

“I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane;
I was the smudge of the ashen fluff – and I
Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky.”

Saturday morning I took out the trash, including a handful of banana peels. I opened the yard-waste bin again and the sparrow exploded, shooting past my head, around the magnolia and over the fence. My “smudge of ashen fluff” had “lived on.” A reader who is losing his vision and faces another surgery writes: “I am hope-filled but not na├»ve.”

3 comments:

elberry said...

i hope your reader recovers good eyesight - there are of course many good books still to read.

elberry said...

i hope your reader recovers good eyesight - there are of course many good books still to read.

Fran Manushkin said...

oh my! I never expected such a wonderful ending. Sing on, sparrow!!