On the morning of the winter Solstice, I was dusting off my car with an old broom from some corner of the house. The car was idling, and the whole world, despite it being around 9:30 AM, was sleepy, except for the sound of a new engine and the snow under my boots.

I see something dark flash by the side of my head, and I feel the single beat of a wing, and like an angry fist, something careens into the glass behind me, resonating through the old, dry wood of the garage door. Breathing heavily, lying perfectly in the snow was a bird much smaller than my hand.

I let it stay there as I finished dusting off my car. I didn’t want to scare it, and I didn’t want to give in to the very human reaction of wanting to comfort it somehow. My presence was probably far less comforting than just being left alone. It stopped breathing after a few seconds, its eyes wide open, my car idling behind me. I picked it up and laid it in some leaves close to the house, where at least it stood a chance of not freezing to death, if it were still deeply stunned. There’s really nothing that you can do for a bird. When I left it, it was still warm and very soft.

As someone who looks for signs in everything, as if the universe has a greater purpose that it’s subtly ushering me towards (mostly because I can’t figure out my left from my right most of the time without holding up my hands to see which one makes an ‘L’ shape), I’m trapped dwelling on what this means.

A month ago, I was leaving for work and I found a similar bird trying to get out of the garage, though there were no open doors or windows anywhere for it to have found a passage in, so I escorted it out at the cost of being late for work.

Were this a positive sign, I assume that the universe would have sent me this bird to alight on my hand and sing me a song, and not on a kamikaze death mission that narrowly misses my forehead. Maybe this is akin to the Death card in the tarot – a sign of new beginning, falling on the shortest, coldest, most hopeless day of the year. Maybe this past week has been so violently disappointing that the only way I’d perceive anything was if it hit me upside the head and scared me. Maybe a bird hit a window and I watched it die, helpless to do anything about it.

Bird