Cathy S. Ulrich

Cathy S. Ulrich

Our mother says that if we were birds, we’d be starlings, speckled and cackling.

When the starlings come to our yard, they come all at once: a crowd, a flock, a murmuration. They fight over the spilled seed on the ground, wings fluttering. There is one that is missing a leg, our mother says, but when we see it later, it is only tucking one leg up against its body as it dips its beak into the water, precariously balancing on the lip of the dish. We’d like to bring it inside and perform surgery on its injured bird foot, or embrace it delicately, clasped between our hands, so we could feel the warbling of its tiny heart. It would know from our gentle touch, perhaps, that it is loved.

A murmuration of starlings in the yard, and one of them is white, unblemished white, stark amongst its mottled mates. If we were starlings, we would be white ones, a pair of them, in the midst of the others,unaware of our beauty, picking at the seeds on the ground, until our father comes up the stairs, and shoos the starlings away.

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