A Bird Man Moves (Based On A True Story)

Poem By Werner Schmidt

A BIRD MAN MOVES
Between 5 and 6 am, summertime.
We walked and
smelled freshness
as the sun wanted us to
when a shout rang out from behind me.
"Dove, dove! " my little backpack yelled.
I turned.
An audience of feathers high
around a suburban amphitheater
waited above the old man
with an autumn gown
and white morning hair.
He looked at us
looking at him and his friends.

"Hello, sir, and tell us about the birds, please? " I asked.

He had fed a courtyard of doves
every morning since his wife's death
three years before.
She had started it
and he kept it going day in and day out
like a thousand breaths.

"I couldn't abandon the poor things, you know.
Days became weeks and months became years
and here we are."

Observing his feathered feeding frenzy
became part of our daily routine.
Sometimes two of us, sometimes more.
Always commentary from my back
with toddler fingers pointed at the heavens.

One January morning: FOR SALE.
The next day the old man received a hand-written note
thanking him for the birds and wishing him well.
His and her quaint cottage sold in a flash
and he moved to a secure estate.
Our last conversation:
"I can't keep on, alone, like this, you know.
It's been almost four years."

He returned to his and her
memory nest
in the morning after
the new pair's first night
under the halo of their green cathedral.
Parked under a municipal tree.
Waited, binoculars ready...

The new owner fluffed from her new front door
in a beige gown.
Stopped, looked up and around, went back in.
Returned with a crumbling loaf
which scattered across the courtyard lawn.

He smiled, a tear feathering down his cheek.
Drove off, popped in at the convenience store.

"Bird seed, please. Some new friends to find, you know."

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