The Sensitive One

by Chelsie Kreitzman

We wait for the school bus, breathing
air tinged with grass clippings, asphalt,
remnants of slow-drying mud puddles.
Not a word passes between us,

the rough-hewn neighbor boys and me.
I once saw them pluck a dead rat
from the gravel, swing it by the tail
with glee.

This morning a baby bird
bobs in the road, injured, flailing
useless wings.  Is there time to run home,
find a shoe box, coax it to sanctuary?

I hesitate, afraid I’ll miss my ride.
A car cruises by, steamrolling
the fledgling with grungy tires,
not even a mirror-glance cast behind.

The boys whoop and laugh at the flattening.
One instant: bright chirps,
breast beating with life.
The next: stray feathers, small crush of guts.

I bite my lip, try not to cry, pretend
I’m not nearly so fragile.

© 2022 Chelsie Kreitzman  All rights reserved.

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