Whenever I see a torn up mass of feathers and blood on the road I always wonder what happened to the bird. Did it get hit by a car? Hunted by a pred- ator? It feels like a waste of life just to become a pile of mashed up bones that eventually ooze into the soft pavement. Mickey’s dog Ace found three baby birds by the train tracks when we were taking her for a walk the other day. I don’t know why we walk over there anyway. The trains barrel through these dry dusty coastal towns blowing their horns so everyone knows they’re coming. At dusk it’s hard to see, so the drivers honk extra hard to make sure no one is on the tracks. The light after the sun sets makes everything look like something else. You can see, but, you can’t tell how far away things are, or tell the difference between a tall cactus and a person. But dusk is when the rabbits come out, so Mickey’s dog really likes this time of day, I think. She’s really curious about them. I don’t think she’d hurt them or anything but, she wants to know what they’re about.
How we knew Ace found those birds was she started acting all weird and sad. She was hovering in the same spot for a while, head down looking at the dirt and whimpering a bit. Dogs evolved to mimic humans’ facial ex- pressions. So her eyebrows were all furrowed and we could tell something wasn’t right. I figured they were dead cause they weren’t making much noise, and it was dusk so I couldn’t see.
There’s no God in nature so I don’t really see why there should be one for humans. I mean, there’s no good and evil in the animal kingdom. We just stumbled upon these shriveled up babies and felt bad for them. They would have died probably, and no one would have cared. I scooped them up with my hands even though I think you’re not supposed to do that. But we figured the mother wasn’t coming back. Their heads were bigger than their bodies. Their veins pumped under grayish transparent skin.
We set them up in a shoebox at Mickey’s place, which they seemed to be fine with. Every few hours I fed them some refrigerated worms I bought from a hardware store. On day two I opened the box and the smallest one was dead. The other two grew up. They became swallows, the ones that fly all the time and never touch the ground.
Birds can’t mimic humans’ facial expressions. Neither can rabbits, or cats, or fish.
What if all living things had human faces. Sunflowers squinting their eyes, turning their heads and smiling towards the sun. I’d like to see that.
— Christina Gigliotti