by Anita Pappas-Raposa
I am haunted by a small bird that flew into my chimney. I came home from the hospital on a Thursday, a day early. Not because I’m so well; just couldn’t take the noise. Exiting the car, I see cheerful roofers flinging shingles into a large black net in the front and rear of the unit. There must be six of them banging above. My desire for rest vanishes. Looking heavenward, I curse my rotten luck, which has beset me for months after falling. My stapled neck is collared, immovable. Spinal fusion will allow me to move like my old self. I take pain meds and sleep more hours in a day than in twenty-five years.
Saturday morning is brisk and sunny as I watch my grandson and husband throw a football around. A paralyzed vocal cord renders a whisper of a voice. I’m trying to keep quiet; feeling restless and confined. I’m moody and bemoaning my missed “Girl’s Trip” to Siesta Key.
Suddenly, I hear a flutter behind the fireplace screen. “Oh God,” I shriek, “There’s a bird in the house.” I hobble outside and signal for help. Young Andrew responds with shrieks. “Yia Yia, the bird’s going to die!” Frightened, he retreats into the bathroom. “We’ll get help.” I look to my husband who begins to swear. He places towels in front of the screen.
The requisite calls begin: the police, the fire department, the Animal Control agency, even the Wildlife Association. Nobody works weekends, or it’s not “what they do.” A sweet girl at the animal shelter tells me to place a little water behind the screen or call a chimney sweep company. She adds, “They can live a few days; call on Monday.” We fortify the screen, but the bird has gone quiet. Unless we tap, all is still back there. We leave the bird alone.
On Sunday morning, I stand near the screen to check on my bird. My sister and husband visit, and she, an animal lover, wants its release. I keep thinking of the Maya Angelou poem “Caged Bird” and wonder if the silent bird feels trapped or is accepting its fate.
Monday morning, I call Animal Control. A pleasant young voice tells me that Animal Control can’t come inside. My hoarse pleading whisper weakens her position. She arrives in half an hour with a large blue fishnet in hand. She hears the frenzied flutter as she peeks behind the screen. When she guides the screen away, I stand back fearing the bird will attack its jailor. But it doesn’t. It eludes the net and flies straight toward a glass-paned door. She opens the door; the bird flies into the bursting blue sky. “Hmm,” she says quietly. “That’s unusual.” “What?” I ask. “It’s a dove.” I try to thank her with a contribution she refuses. “No, but I hope your voice comes back.” I reply, “I do too.”
I have cursory knowledge of doves, but I feel stronger and calmer now that the bird is free. Emily Dickinson was right, “Hope is the thing with feathers.”
Anita Pappas-Raposa is currently working on a memoir about her coming of age and small-town life in Palmer, Massachusetts. She is a nonfiction writer and retired English teacher who attends The Museum School. An excerpt entitled “My Mother Wore Chanel” from an earlier memoir was published in the Palmer Journal in 2017.
Anita Pappas-Raposa is currently working on a memoir about her coming of age and small-town life in Western Massachusetts. She is a non-fiction writer and retired English teacher. She has published several essays and excerpts from her memoir.