Autumn N. Hall
A late spring gust buffets the baby sparrow, unfurling him, blowing him off course. Just-budding climbing roses engulfing the backyard fence catch him up, impale him on their crown-of-thorns. Trapped, held like a P.O.W., he cries out for mercy. The terror in his beady eyes makes something tear and bleed inside the five-year-old witness, who runs.
Wearing civilian status like an ill-fitting mackintosh, her father takes grill duty seriously. But at her urgent summons, he hastens away from the heating hibachi, wiping charcoal smears on his creased khakis. "No more casualties; not on my watch."
"He's stuck in the flowers, Daddy. He's scared."
"ABC equals airway, breathing, circulation. Remember that."
"Okay. I will. I'm learning ABC's in school, too."
As tenderness stored from newborns-never-held manifests in his muscled hands, an understanding passes between this big Marine and that little bird. Their eyes soften. The lesser relaxes, submits to greater's rescue.
Pilot training still front and center, her father licks his left index finger and raises it above his head. "Now watch this little guy; he'll know what to do."
tossed to the wind
on fledgling wings
a daughter's love