Two (3?) birds on hand


July 26, 2018 by petrujviljoen

small bird
dying – a grim

It was my cat. I hate it when she catches birds. Lizards, mice a-plenty I don’t mind. It was still alive. Its head flopped and its legs kicked against my hand. Some fight left in it still. I took it out and put it on the steps of the outbuilding.

early morning sun
splattered steps
– a cold comfort

I go back. Sit with it. It might fall off in its struggle to get up. It closed its claw around my finger and we spent a bit of time. Me balancing my coffee and cigarette in the other hand. The bird is still, seems content even. I speak to it. Tell it I’m sorry. The cat certainly isn’t going to apologise.

The need for a second cuppa got the bird put in my woolen cap and left in the folds of the second jersey I took off. Having been offline yesterday I decide to check my email. A friend’s memorial service is being planned. Do I want to go.

Aaah! No!
an old pain kicks
against my ribcage

My study, the room with the best view, takes on a dense glimmer I can’t stand. I flee to the garden, leave the bird to its journey, check on it once in a while, while I rub the flowers off of the rosemary bush, water the spinach, the only thing still alive in the veggie patch.

the bird’s eye
view its last sunbeam

busy at the easel I hear a tap-tapping against the kitchen window. Bemused, I go to look. Another bird of another feather wanted in. Tweeted a song and flew off.


Linked to Dverse Poets

42 thoughts on “Two (3?) birds on hand

  1. memadtwo says:

    The ups and downs of a day…beautiful rendering. How one thing attaches itself to another in ways we can’t predict. (K)

  2. I can see it unfolding and how the emotions get entangled in between and with the friend’s memorial service, the grief completes its circle. That sweet bird that flies away provides some comfort.

  3. mhmp77 says:


    Cats do what is natural for them. Some birds can be at the wrong place at the wrong time.. You had at least provided a caring way for its passing which was a noble thing to do!


  4. Frank Hubeny says:

    I like how you cared for that bird and even apologized for the cat.

  5. The mournfulness of this is beautiful.

  6. Domestic cats are a plague when it comes to destroying fragile eco-systems. We have one hunter who still catches voles regularly even though she’s been belled. Thank goodness the bell warns the birds away at least. The claws curling around your finger was so poignant.

    • I’m scared of a collar with a bell. It might get caught in a branch or fence and strangle her. She gets in everywhere!

      • I was worried about that too, although there aren’t too many hazards like that here. Trixie’s collar is too loose and should probably be tightened. So far the only thing she’s managed to catch it on is her front leg. The daft creature didn’t even complain about it, just hobbled around on three legs until I realised she wasn’t permanently trying to scratch her neck.

        • Ha-ha-ha!! Cats! Mine got herself locked in a cellar a few houses up the road a few days ago. Sheer radar that helped me find her our bond is that close.

        • We lost Trixie for a fortnight once when we lived in Bordeaux. She’d got herself stuck in an apartment that was changing tenants. She couldn’t get out until the new ones arrived.

        • Ah shame, poor thing. A fortnight!! She must’ve had access to water else she wouldn’t have survived.

        • It was one of the assisted rent apartments. Some of the tenants were the kind of people who left all of their rubbish behind, windows open, old fridge etc abandoned. The water and electricity is never turned off so she would have had the toilet bowl at least…

        • The new people must’ve had a time cleaning up the place. Glad she survived the new tenants. Did she just bolt once the door was opened? Hope you didn’t get a cleaning bill.

        • As soon as we saw activity in the apartment, like the roof window being thrown open, we knew someone was moving in. Trixie turned up a few hours later, so I guess that’s what happened.

        • I mentioned ‘Particularly Cats’ by Doris Lessing. It’s autobiographical, an account of cats she had over years. It’s really, really good. If you can get hold of a copy I highly recommend it. She tells of one cat, they were living in London, which went to another flat and stole sausages by the stringful. The way she told it had one in stitches! I thought of doing something similar about Charlie. I have hundreds of photos of her. She’s on my lap right now, having come in from a short adventure. Probably went to upset the dachshund two houses away. She’d sit on the fence and the stupid dog will go mad barking at her. The big dog just ignores her. Thankfully.

        • Cats should write autobiographies. They’d be best-sellers 🙂

  7. Glenn Buttkus says:

    Wow–this poem zinged through my heart like a stone arrowhead through a melon. Your style–micro-poetry and senryu a glitter–got me jazzed to the max. The marvelous juxtaposition of life in the garden versus death from feline was daring and fresh–and existential. I may have to try some of your form in my next poem.

    • Thank you Glenn! By the way, I tried commenting on your post last night and it wouldn’t load. I’ve internet connectivity problems, it happened on a few sites. I’m still amazed how movie script is presented as poetry and how well it works. The visuals are amazing!

  8. […] Two (3?) birds on hand  […]

  9. Jo says:

    I loved the juxtaposition between the prose and the short verses – very powerful story!

  10. I love this! Although the demise of the bird is sad, your telling of it is wonderful. And in the middle of it all you admit, “The cat certainly isn’t going to apologise.” That is the way of cats, isn’t it? They don’t apologize for anything.

    • After scolding her and giving her the cold shoulder the whole day she did eventually seemed sheepish. I told her I’m going to tell everyone what she’s done. They know!

  11. Jo says:

    I liked the juxtaposition between the prose and the short verses — both told a powerful story!

  12. Tranature - quiet moments in nature says:

    At least you were there for the bird and helped her spirit onto its next journey. It is almost as if the other bird came to say thank you xxx

    • It did seem that way! By the way, I tried commenting on your post and it wouldn’t load. My internet connection isn’t very stable at the moment. Just to say I loved the poem and the photo.

  13. sanaarizvi says:

    Ah I can relate! Cats can be stubborn when it comes to chasing their prey. I used to have one who gave birth to five kittens. It was both fun and agonizing when she reached a stage where her young ones learned to bring in mice and birds.

  14. kim881 says:

    Oh, I was right there with you! One of my cats is a hunter and I hate it when she catches birds. I love ‘scattered haibun’ form and the oxymoron ‘grim beauty’ is just right for the subject. The description of the bird in your hand made me sad but the image of the bird with its claw around your finger, spending time, was so poignant and made me smile – as did the happy ending! :).

  15. You might love your cat… but to have to give a wake for a bird is such an ordeal…
    I hope the second bird will not be caught,

  16. Nan Mykel says:

    I’m moved–by you and the bird. Thanks for sharing.

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