Hummingbird and Mouse


I annihilate mice. If their job is to be mice, mine is to destroy them. I don’t apologize, but still.

When I got to work this morning, what I saw on the ground, what I’d nearly stepped on and annihilate if it had it been a mouse, was not a mouse, but a tiny bird with a long beak and red breast, its feathers dull green, nearly mouse brown.

Our buildings wear sheaths of glass, long deadly mirrors. Birds crash them and fall stunned to earth and sometimes killed. But this little bird sat upright, its claret chest moving slightly, stunned maybe, maybe dying. I left it alone, best leave wild animals alone, no? and started toward my office.

But only a few steps later, I already wondered what I should have done. Hummingbird might die having smashed into glass. But what to do? I am giant; hummingbird is tiny. Even my touch would break it more; I barely take care of myself. Yet where hummingbird sat, in foot traffic, stupefied, someone stupid would soon annihilate it like a mouse.

In my office, thirty stories up, “Save injured hummingbird” Google queries said a box would keep it warm, and tissue. I scoured recycling, and miniature coffin in hand, tissues in coffin, rode to the ground to begin hummingbird resurrection. Saving bird life, the idea, excited me. The promise of the heroic. I had already named it Lazarus and already reproached myself for cliché.

I’d give the little fellow orange juice being careful not to soak him with it. Sticky feathers cannot insulate. Use a box that closes, and don’t use a towel inside. Little feet tangle in terrycloth. But even then, the web says, smashed Ruby Throats die. Lots of them, especially the fledglings, but this was neither fledgling nor mouse but resurrection.

Hummingbirds use many calories straying warm. Their metabolism runs amuck. In months they live lifetimes. Surely, they know dimensions unavailable to humans, navigate hyper physical realms, communicate with entities beyond man’s kith. They live ahead of themselves anchored to the future as we live anchored to the past.

The bird rested where I’d left it, still breathing. Urging it into the box, I brushed it’s dull green feathers, and it lifted gently before me stealing my heroism and salvation. I would never warm it under an incandescent light or feed it sugar water three times an hour. I would never be its Jesus.

It hummed away healthy past the chlorinated fountain safe into a laurel tree. It should have been a mouse, one I could have annihilated.

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