One can’t separate the observer from the observed
—Robin Wall Kimmerer
We understood it
to be suffering, its beak a little open.
I told my daughter help
would be to leave,
to let its mother come, so she ran
as far away as she could—
past her friend’s house, where I think
always of what she might remember:
How they rode bikes on gravel
and yelled into the woods, which were a place,
and how her friend turned out, neither of them seeing now
what I see: the child’s mom defecting
a fortressed marriage, a rope of sheets,
split particles forced to choose a place to land.
Or I wonder—and this stops me—
what her friend will remember of her.
When I make it home, she’s already thrown
her small body on the bed and not wanting me
to enter, but wanting me to, and asking that I read to her,
lest she think of the bird again, trampled
flatter by her thought.
She wants to save it—to save herself
by not thinking of it. The observer
and the observed, one. I’ll read her every book.
There are things I will not ask:
How would the mother
lift that downy child to its nest?
In her beak? With her wing
like a parcel, and the other flapping? Flailing?
Failing circles of the mind.
My daughter listens, breathes,
the magic of her childhood, not that she believes
the mother will return,
but that she does not question
that there’s a way to carry a baby
who cannot fly on its own. The magic
of her childhood, that I believe it too—
the observer, the observed.