The thing I tell no one about is the lost sparrow, the one hopping and cheeping in the front hallway, a tiny thing crying. I give myself leeway in memory, say I must've walked up the back steps, not right past it, or why wouldn't I have just chased and shooed it as I have so many other creatures looking for a way out? But maybe I did walk past. I can hear myself on the phone, pulling off my work clothes-a polyester dress, pantyhose-and cradling the receiver as I plop down on the bed, no sense of urgency, talking and talking about the strangeness of finding a bird in there, and what should I do now? I don't know why this was a question for discussion, why some automatic reflex of legs walking toward and heart feeling for the bird, which must be panicked, didn't send me right back to open the door and send the bird into the air or into the shelter of my palm. How could it have gotten in?
"A broom? A dustpan?" We, me and whoever is on the other end, debate the protocol, talking, talking. I can hear the bird, noisy in the hall. (How long does it take just to open a door?) And finally I get myself to the kitchen, still thinking, "How strange, a bird in that space," and pick up a broom and dustpan, feeling a little like a cartoon duck with a trash can shield, afraid of some big wild beast, and head down the stairs.
It's quiet. At first I'm relieved. "God, while I was blabbing someone else came in and let it out." But then I see it, stiff and still in the corner. It's such a small thing, a baby I've let die. I scoop it up with the dustpan and carry it to the trash.