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THIS BIRD HAS FLOWN
August 27, 2004
 
The box was big and unexpected. What is it? Inside, lots of bubble wrap around something small. Bubble wrap is such a delight -- I put some under the rug in front of Rosie's bedroom door once this summer while she was out, so that it would pop-pop when she went into her room, and then I lay on my bed in the other room and waited, just to hear her laugh to herself.

The last of the bubble wrap lifted to reveal a porcelain hummingbird -- perfect and tiny, visiting a flower, her slender beak poised to drink from its center. Beautiful. Of course, she is the only hummingbird who has visited the Geranium Farm this summer. I haven't been quite as assiduous in feeding my nonexistent hummers from feeders as in past years, but there have been plenty of tempting flowers from which to choose, including many planted just for them. Surefire hummer tempters. Nothing.

But the little china hummingbird looks nice on the library table in the living room. The living room looks nice. Dining room, too. Even Rosie's room looks nice: it doesn't look like a laundry any more, with clothes strewn everywhere -- it's the India Room again, with its bright sari bed curtains, its sandalwood elephants, its ornate candle holders. School is starting, and she's gone home. Unable to sleep in the night and not wanting to get up and work, I crept in there as I used to do before she came. I lit a scented candle, tuned the radio from her hip-hop station to my old BBC haunt. The cricket scores worked as well as they used to: I awoke after 6am. The BBC was gone, and the French had taken over: jazz and news of France.

Jazz in the India Room. Cricket scores. A scented candle. Neatness and peace. The little bird has flown home. I think I'll paint my bedroom black, she says cheerfully. Oh, no, I think, before I realize that it won't be my problem.

I didn't get hummingbirds again this year. At least, not yet. They'll be flying back home, too, though -- I will fill some feeders and tie some red ribbons near them and try to lure them down again. Maybe they'll see my temptations and decent. Maybe they'll be too intent on their journey, with no time to stop for me. But maybe they will come.

Behind one of the sari window curtains, the windowpane is covered with Rosie's graffiti: phone numbers, laments, dates to remember, little cartoons. You can see it from the outside. I think I'll leave it there, as a sign: Teens Welcome Here.
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