Resting Place

By Kate Levin

August 23, 2021

Resting Place

When we arrive at daycare, I step out of the car and close my door gently, hoping not to startle my son awake. As I open the back door to retrieve him from his car seat, I see the bird.

I gasp, but only its stillness is gruesome. Otherwise, it’s perfect—round, brown, downy, wedged between leather and metal, tucked into the space where the door opens and closes. A baby; a sparrow, I think. When I was young, we had a Christmas ornament just like it.

There is my sleeping son, and there is the dead bird.

When he was younger, just born, fear overtook me in waves. I could lose him at any time. I could lose him because I had him, and anything I had, I could lose. The logic was airtight, suffocating.

But then I would look at him, breath muscle bones, humming in motion; a system insisting on itself. Who was I to doubt it?

A clean napkin is the best I can do for a shroud. I pluck the sparrow from the backseat, amazed by its lightness and lack of resistance. A few feet away, a thick wall of green shrubbery separates us from the daycare’s yard. No one is watching. I reach in and give the bird to the branches. Through the windshield I can see my son, eyes still closed. Beneath a buckled harness, his chest rises and falls, rises and falls, rises and falls.


Photo "nick snoozing in his booster seat" provided by Sean Dreilinger, via creative commons license.

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