she said there’s a robin.

i think it’s hurt. can you help? we 

walked to the stairwell, looked through the glass.

a robin panted, stranded on the concrete steps, chest heaving,

wobbling on unsteady legs, seeming dazed

perhaps concussed? no broken wing, i guessed, feeling helpless

i’ll do what i can i said and we returned

to class, my mind on the robin, suffering

after class i checked again, hoping for a miracle instead

poor robin is dying struggling to breathe

sunk down on the concrete, not trying to fly

i walked away, unsure how to help

what do you do when you see suffering

and nothing you could do will ease it?

i passed our building custodian, who asked

how are you today?

sad i said and told him about the bird

let me he said and pulled on thin white gloves

he opened the door, stooped down, and cupped the robin

in both hands, gently stroking it’s small feathered head

the robin closed its eyes, did not resist, but rested peacefully

upheld for a moment with trust and compassion

and that’s the image I can’t shake

this gentle man taking time to cradle a small life

offering comfort, carefully placing the robin

in the grassy shade. dignity for a life we couldn’t save

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