Richard G.

The Mother Robin

In the early morning on the fourth of August, a mother robin had just been on its way home from fetching its young a worm, when the bird for some reason decided to take a different route back to its tree. It had been flying low and noticed a scattered bunch of crumbs on the sidewalk. It swooped down and landed gracefully on the pavement. Just as the bird felt it had eaten its fill and was about to depart for home, it spotted a large cat sleeping on the doorstep of a house. Within the split-second between when the bird spotted the cat and when the bird took off, something clicked and unraveled. The bird couldn’t move. The fear of what might happen once the cat woke up kept it there. The effort of trying to be perfectly quiet so as not to wake the cat kept it still, moving less than a stone. The cat could spot it. The thought was certainly possible, however, irrational. The cat was very blatantly asleep. The bird knew this, but could not bring itself to leave. The cat could catch sight of the bird fluttering off. The cat surely wanted it to leave. The cat was surely just waiting for the hunt to begin.
The unbearable fear that continued to strangle the bird's throat made the bird begin to hallucinate. The bird was then taken to the cat's world, to the jungle. The bird then experienced images of haunting forests so thick and so moist that the water condensed on the bird's tongue and trickled down among the feathers on the mother robin's breast. The bird's tongue had been hanging out of its mouth from its own exhaustion as it tried to flee. The ground had gone. There was only blackness below the bird's feet. The dense trees scurried left and right with long sticky vines linking them together. The bird's heart was racing. Surely the cat would find it. Surely it would see. The bird's legs were still fastened and its wings sealed. Its eyes could only look forward as its tongue still kept a steady flow of saliva and moistened air drizzling down the front of the bird.
The only moves the bird could make were in its subconscious. It did not even notice that its tongue had dropped. It forgot that the cat was asleep. It forgot that there wasn't even a jungle in the first place. It was only an idea that held the bird prisoner. A single worry kept the bird's wings on its sides. An imaginary threat had a firm grip on the robin's feet. A fear that danger could be present made the bird's neck stiff and secure. A sense of terror within the bird that it might not be able to return to its children refrained the bird from moving and kept it in a petrified state. The bird's eyes still were fixed on a porch where a danger once sat. The vision the eyes could see was only trees cloaked in darkness and glistening from the saturated air with a stickiness the bird could taste from the root of its tongue all the way to the tip where a line of its drool sill dribbled around the bird's chin. The bird's weariness and terror still scratched and ripped at the very fabric of what held the bird's sanity intact and what kept the bird a bird and not a rock or a stone.     
Though the cat was still nowhere to be seen among the sticky trees that veiled the bird's vision, the bird managed to convince itself that it could hear a low purr among the vines. In spite of everything, the purr was all that the bird's ears would permit to be registered by the mind. The bird's heart was still racing. A heat stirred deep within the bird and burned the bird's lungs. Its veins carried the boiling blood throughout the bird's body and sweat drenched the bird's feathers. The perspiration mixed with the bird's saliva and the air stuck to every part of the bird's body as if it were caught in some sort of web of stringy strands constricting around the quills of each and every feather. The heat in the sticky putrescence that caressed the bird's body and soaked it in the sultry substance began to pierce the bird's flesh with white-hot itches it could not move to scratch. There were itches on every part of the bird's body, like needles, each one growing sharper by the second, splintering the bird, daring the animal to lose its mind. The bird's mind would not be lost. It was set on the same idea. The purring still echoed in the bird's ears. The cat was surely coming. It wouldn't be long before it came. It shouldn't take too long. Moving would surely get the bird caught. If it were caught, surely everything would be worse. The bird would not be able to return to its children if it were caught. Another needle pierced the bird between the eyes. The eyes were ablaze. They had not blinked for a period of time the bird could not think to recall. The veins in the eyes bulged, the blood boiled, the heart throbbed, the lungs burned, the bird's hide was still drenched with a coat of needle-sharp steaming itches that still pricked and pierced the bird's skin as the skin housed creepers that crawled up and down the inside of the bird's feathery hide.    
A half of a second after the bird had landed on the pavement, the cat had caught sight of a silky-white butterfly fluttering in the summer breeze. The cat then became fascinated and chased it away. The bird blinked and the feeling was gone. The cat had awakened, just as the bird knew it would. The mother robin spread its wings and took flight once again. It was off to its children.


Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.