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