Wednesday, June 15, 2005

what I do

Yesterday I failed to save a morning dove.

He called me, and I came, which is what I do. I come, though I almost died once doing so, coming to someone at midnight, my first week in D.C. The drunk’s car lifted mine like it was a rosebush, like it needed to be lifted, scaled back, mowed. For this, I fear being lost. I no longer drive at night to think.

I drove ten miles above the limit, past the round barn, onto roads which know no name, by farms, men on porches who would probably shoot me if they knew my heart. For once, I choose the right way, turning up the hill. I found him. That is what I do.

Years ago, my nickname was Angel of Dead Birds.

Now there is a school of goldfish in the filthy stream beside the school, the stream where nothing lives. But suddenly, the other day, I saw them: pale orange, domesticated goldfish. I do not know how they got there. I do not know what they are doing. They do not know this, either. Dumped from an aquarium, my friend suggested.

My sister and I used to run a hospice for feeder goldfish. We would buy them at the pet store for fifty cents, then bring them home to die. Then my father bought a plastic pond and it came, inexplicably, with all the display fish. At the pet store, they stuffed the fish into one bag, dozens. When he got home, many were already sliding dead through the water, but we poured them into a tank in the basement. My father said they needed more oxygen, to stir up the water, so I did, first with a net, then my arm, submerged to the elbow, the freezing, stinking water, pleading with the fish, churning them up to the surface myself, to try and teach them how to live.

It was the not the first time I learned not everything makes it.

Driving home, I listened to Sun Kil Moon, “Carry Me Ohio.” I finally found myself in the song. All this time, I thought I was the singer singing to someone, someone lost. But I think now I am the lost one, I am the one who needs to be carried.

The dove was a small one, not a year old, born in the spring, with a broken wing.

I am sorry I did not save you. I tried. I move on now to others.