Feeding the Birds

Birds and bread
Photo by From Marwool on Unsplash

There’s a root vegetable growing in my yard. It comes back every spring, not knowing that whoever brought it forth has since packed up and moved away. Be fruitful. This green life wastes itself on me; some kind of radish, maybe. I have no time for a garden now that we have kids, so I don’t think about it. Be fruitful and multiply.

The yard at my parents’ house is a patchwork of bread slices. Every day my mother flings an entire loaf’s worth onto the grass. Fill the earth. Nuthatches watch from the trunk of a pine tree. Clicking of claws on bark. Wingbeats. When my cousin gave the tree as a gift 34 years ago, it could fit in her hand. Now it’s twenty feet tall and what can stop it? Fill the earth and subdue it. My mother stands under its limbs, fills birdfeeders. Rattle of sunflower seeds, rush of millet. Plastic tube. She cares for them—sparrows, robins, and bluejays. They will come back today. They will come back tomorrow. The birds will come back, and so will the radish. How resolute is the love of things that return because they always have.

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