The jigsaw puzzle of mercy
fell to pieces today.
The dogs saw it crumble,
alerting me before I could
gather, prepare, ready–
For this, this seeming simple thing.
The dogs ran, back hair bristled—
I ran after,
yelling, yanked their collars—
the dogs listened, stood back, panting.
All the construction of houses around us stopped
it seemed for a moment—
for a moment only us—
the four of us—
my two dogs, one on each side of me,
standing back, as they’d been told,
me, and the small bird now in my hands.
I had not stopped to grab anything—
no gloves, no towel—
had not thought of viruses, bacteria—
this bird was still alive—
limp, though nothing seemed broken,
yet its eyes wild.
I held it lightly,
thinking it stunned
it would surely fly off—
just stunned is all–I thought—
just a moment,
give it a moment, it would fly.
It had to fly.
By God, this ordinary grayish brown bird,
shaking, breathing hard in my hands, had to fly.
The bird closed its eyes—
It would not fly—
I knew it then—
I would have to gift it– mercy,
and so did what needed done—
Broke its neck in two.
No. No. It doesn’t help to know
I put an end to its suffering.
But I learned mercy makes for easy talk,
yet it is a suffering thing to do.