The first thing I heard this morning was a soft, insistent rustle, the rapid flapping of wings against glass as it turned out,
a small bird rioting in the frame of a high window, trying to hurl itself through the enigma of transparency into the spacious light.
A noise in the throat of the cat hunkered on the rug told me how the bird had gotten inside, carried in the cold night through the flap in a basement door, and later released from the soft clench of teeth.
Up on a chair, I trapped its pulsations in a small towel and carried it to the door, so weightless it seemed to have vanished into the nest of cloth.
But outside, it burst from my uncupped hands into its element, dipping over the dormant garden in a spasm of wingbeats and disappearing over a tall row of hemlocks.
Still, for the rest of the day, I could feel its wild thrumming against my palms whenever I thought about the hours the bird must have spent pent in the shadows of that room, hidden in the spiky branches of our decorated tree, breathing there among metallic angels, ceramic apples, stars of yarn,
its eyes open, like mine as I lie here tonight picturing this rare, lucky sparrow tucked into a holly bush now, a light snow tumbling through the windless dark.