The Dead Bird
I pick up the dead bird, its skin still plump, wings splayed. I remove the grass, a small tuft of hair, its smell reminiscent of the blood that flows out of me, month after month.
The backyard is covered in dew and leaves. The wind rattles the oak and stops. There are birds in its branches, calling out the dead bird, their yellow mouths open. The dead bird’s skin feels like the gloved hands of the fertility specialist probing my insides. He tells me, it’s all good; you need to relax and not think too much.
I start raking leaves until there’s nothing but bulbs and rocks. Next to the tulips and daffodils, I bury the dead bird, press my hands over its small head and hollow bones, pushing it deeper. It doesn’t move. On my last visit the doctor said, you must believe. All the birds have left. The sky is an empty, translucent shell. Like years of waiting. I’m still staring at the pile when the wind whines and with every turn, the raked leaves rise like wings and cover the dead bird. Something in my stomach shifts and settles. In distance, a new born cloud bends, touches the land.
The Endless Rivalry
It started with my parents. They were madly in love. Being an only child, I felt like an orphan, trying to fit in spaces filled with their kisses and hugs. Eclipsed by untouched affection that extended from the first bite of breakfast to cleaning the last plate after dinner, I could not wait to grow up, go where the heel of the earth rested with full acceptance.
I dated a boy in college. He had ocean-sized eyes, clean ears and sexy wrists. Before I could trim my nails the second time, he fell for Audrey, my best friend. They held hands and talked about spending their lives together. And I breathed into my pain as if it was a wall I could lean against.
I saw a middle-aged, married man comparing cantaloupes in the produce isle. It wasn’t my new hormone regimen or a pending visit to the shrink but a warm air that surrounded me. It was enough to melt my glacial heart.
We stayed up late in the motel rooms and walked in the strip malls. We fought in our waking hours and made up in our sleep. We got a tan, cut each other’s hair, shared toothbrushes and towels. He mentioned that his parents loved him and he loves his kids. I confessed – I am a twin of rejection.
I had to leave once the pregnancy was confirmed. In my mind there were dotted lines of doubt that placed my future kid searching for one glance to solidify his presence, but settling for a passing blink.
Over the horizon, I see my parents dancing and Audrey is smiling at my first boyfriend. My last boyfriend has returned to his family. He asks for our son’s pictures. I haven’t sent any. I want my son all to myself. Right now, I see him holding pieces of a puzzle – some right, others that look right and between those boundaries – the endless rivalry of love and life thrives. And I no longer seek the non-existent tail of the earth.
Tara Isabel Zambrano lives in Texas with her husband and two kids. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, Juked, Moon City Review, Lunch Ticket and others. She is an Electrical Engineer by profession who likes to read three books at the same time.
Photo by Electric Eye