The feathers had yet to mature. The bird perched motionless within the cover of the squash vines, head lifted proud with courage and fear and courage, black eyes not seeing mine. Only hours later, cleaning the inside of the microwave, rag dropped, I remembered our conversation about not being able to catch a bird all summer, how I could have reached out and held it and brought it indoors to her, but I didn't because of bird-shocked heart beat exploding, that the fear of my hand would kill her if wrapped even gently, even good-intentioned around her warm frozen body. And though I only passed her for a moment sitting still as if to trick me into thinking she wasn't really there, I saw whole rolls of medical diagrams, grape-sized heart mapped, reckless and expanding under the pressure of captivity, how I didn't reach out because, to her, I would have been more terrifying than whatever she'd been hiding from in the first place.
And maybe she was hiding from me. Woman walking through garden with eyes bent down always thinking about her feelings crossing things off her list woman who wants more than she should want. I am afraid of her too, little bird. Maybe if my own heart, fragmented dynamite-blossom, flashed beyond itself into the hand of Him who made me to live beyond the small world of myself?
And thankful even after preparing the cage that we didn't find her there again, Nora's girl feet caked with mud searching under leaves, waking the mosquito squadron, and we go inside better than we came out, our hands still empty and filled with a bird heart now flying beyond hands that are so much smaller than the sky.