I hear a bird who is not one of my “regulars,” and I stop sweeping, stand listening in the open doorway of my trailer home. A timid peep comes from the Palo Verde, a verdin, who also doesn’t visit often. But his is not the sound I’ve stopped for. It was someone louder. Someone is calling from the top of the electrical pole across our small road. When I walk outside to look, I can’t see anyone up there. But he keeps talking, so I go get my binoculars. I used to bring them out to the courtyard every morning, to sit beside my notebook, my pens, my small pile of books. Sometimes I would just sit and watch my regulars, my mourning doves, my house finch, my hummingbirds. But they would be handy when someone unusual showed up. It’s a habit I’d like to resurrect. Now I study the top of the pole with the binoculars. It takes a bit of time, but when I see the bird it clicks. He is a great-tailed grackle, one of my favorites. I used to talk to them when I walked in the mornings along the bike path. But now there is no water for them on the golf course, and I don’t hear them anymore. I would say they never come to our trailer park, but there he is. I watch him on the pole, glossy black, big tail waving, intense. I stand listening to his calls. I should have recognized his voice. It is the sound of the Mexican mainland to me, a return to civilization, the exotic calls both welcome and comfort. He flies off heading south. I stand at the edge of my courtyard and watch him fly away. It feels like he came to visit me. Warm tears push at the corners of my eyes. And now the moon is in the south, too, a thin waning sickle in our pale blue sky. I breathe and settle. Goodbye, grackle. Hello, moon.
Weird how some days are light—busy, maybe, but easy to move through. Nothing jars you. Nothing weights you. Nothing rattles, jangles, presses too hard against your skin. And some days weigh more. Things you can take in stride on any other day push at you, jiggering your insides, everything crimped, all sharp angles. Sometimes I think the universe is toying with me. How many things can she bear in one day before she explodes? Small things, I mean—nothing serious. The cat tracks poop across the down comforter, sprays it against the white wall. The qi gong class you rushed to get to is not the one you were hoping it would be. The wind comes in the late afternoon and chases you inside. You fight with the curtains. They have sprung free from the weights set to hold them, and they are billowing against you as you work, pushing into your space. Your annoyance has no rational tie to the smallness of this invasion. But some days it is the steady press of small things that pisses me off, makes my body feel too small to hold my anger, unjustified though it may be. Was it only this morning I saw the hawk leap from our fence to the sky? Only this morning I followed his flight with my eyes and found the waning moon nestled against the mountain ridge? Was it only this morning I stopped, then, looking at the pale curve of moon and remembered how lucky I am?