When we fixed the grackle's wing
and dabbed the grit from his cuts, we found
bits of shattered beak in the grass. It was fall,
orange foliage brittle—he had tumbled
through a rose bush after walloping the glass.

That night from his shoebox bed
he sang of flowing water and of a flightless
aquatic child who craves the summer air:
'Afraid of submersion, it tries to swim.
It struggles for the moon
and brings us pain ... '

His cuts began to stink.
Within five days the glands on his neck
ballooned into sick orange cysts. Mom made us move him
from Eric's dresser to the shed. She was sorry, said
'He's going to a better place,' but the grackle disagreed.
'Each better place is next to nothing,' he sang.
'The difference is both hard and clear.'