The Bird

By Diane LeBlanc

July 17, 2023

The Bird

“Can you help us?” I don’t know the student leaning into my office with this question. But I’ve just finished active shooter training, a mental health webinar, and several pandemic-response seminars, so I assume the worst. I follow her down the hall as she explains. A bird is swooping around their classroom. It might hurt itself.

The classroom has a fireplace and chairs at one end and a table wrapped with gothic windows at the other. Chimney swifts come in through this fireplace then can’t get out. We usually call a biologist or a safety officer. Their professor is organizing notes at the lectern. Students are looking from me to the bird, which has landed near the windows.

I don’t have a plan as I remove my thin cotton scarf and whisper my clogs across the wooden floor. When I drape my scarf over the bird and scoop it from the stone sill, it yields. I carry it like a glimmering bubble down two flights of stairs and out the door.

By the time I squat beside a bush to unveil the bird, students somewhere have been shot. Others have ended their own lives. Here, a few stop to watch the bird hop from my scarf. They look at me as if I’m a magician. The one with nothing up her sleeve.


Diane LeBlanc is a writer, teacher, and book artist with roots in Vermont, Wyoming, and Minnesota. She is the author of The Feast Delayed (Terrapin Books, 2021) and four poetry chapbooks. Read more at


Image by Africa Studio courtesy of Adobe Stock

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