When I was walking home, I saw a curious thing rolling towards me. It was small and light; it was blown across the sidewalk like a bite of tumbleweed. Or it could have been spools of dust drummed up from earth by a confused wind – bursting into confused shapes as it bounced off the sidewalk.
I walked towards it – it was momentarily still, shaking and weary in the indeterminate breeze. I looked closely. It was a bird's nest. Made of countless threads of dried grass and stripped twigs, it was a woven home, a knit of natural things, gently made through the diligence of two sparrows. Little bursts of life, with songs of boldness and pride, they built their nests every Spring, following the commands of the DNA coursing through their veins.
And now the results of one couple's homemaking lay at my feet. The nest was the color of dried flax, and it was the size of a cupped hand. The middle was hollowed out and lined with pale, winsome feathers. Down, plume, semiplume: the parents had dug deep into their breasts to tear out a cushion of warmth that would complete a bed destined to protect a chorus of helpless lives.
Once part of a sparrow commune hidden in the shadowy, airless eaves of the welcoming houses, an errant wind had lifted it from its moorings like Dorothy's prairie home, and taken it for a ride of confusion on the airy columns, streams and currents. Only instead of stopping to crush a witch, it stopped in front of me.