The tremolo of the Common Loon and fledgling Bald Eagles became tied to my mother. I wanted Great Blue Herons for my father.
We were looking for herons, Saturday, at a wildlife refuge and found a Kite perched in a dead tree. He canted forward, hooked beak, black inquisitive eyes, intent. I stood in the road, focused on him; he focused on what I couldn’t see, swooping down once, twice, three times, to my feet. Then he took to the air and proved his name. He rose, he hovered, he shivered in the currents, and, then his wings folded, plummeted like grief. And rose again.
I never leave my phone behind, except that day. When we returned home, there was a message from my sister, who never calls. Dad was unresponsive, though restless. He had quit eating two days before, she said, told her the previous Saturday that he felt “changes” were coming, asked her not to leave town. One of his last requests was that I read a poem at his funeral.
Thursday, my sister called, again.
That afternoon, Kites appeared over my house, half a dozen or more against a bank of building thunderclouds in the East. They swooped low, but didn’t land. As time progressed, the birds moved further off, first south of the neighborhood, then east. I found myself driving through town, on various errands, looking up. Twice, I forgot where I was going or why.
Shortly before dusk, the clouds and birds were gone, leaving the sky bereft.