You don’t know me, but I know you.
I know all of you.
I watch you from the windows, but you don’t notice me. Not ever.
You, tall man with the beard, are the first to wake. Sometimes the little girl joins you early in the morning when the sun has barely risen. She helps you brew the coffee, feed the dog, and let him out. He’s kind of nasty, if I’m being honest. He’s the only one who glances in my direction, though. Most of the time he chases me away, and I retreat to the skies.
When the woman and louder child — the boy, the one who cries and clings to her — come downstairs, you all enjoy breakfast. You cook. You eat. You sing and laugh and play. Yet you never see me.
I call to you in the mornings, and afternoons, and evenings — even at night, when the lights are out and the stars guide me to your dwelling — but you carry on with your little ones and your love. Your life.
The days turn into months, the months into years. I try to sing to you. No one listens. You change before my eyes. The boy and the girl grow taller, thinner. She has ribbons in her hair, and he wears a cap on his head. You seem happy.
A third child appears one day, as loud as the others used to be. Now they’re a different kind of loud.
The seasons change again and again. You have specks of gray in your hair. The woman’s has turned silver, wavier.
My bones grow old, worn. Still, I try to sing. One day in late spring, when the trees are in full bloom, I fall from a high branch. I’m too tired to do anything about it. It feels like the end.
But then you appear. You stand over me. You kneel — murmur something. It sounds like music.
And then the girl appears, and the boy. The woman and new child, too.
You’re all here with me. It’s all I ever wanted, but now I’m too tired to sing.
I take it all in — your faces, the trees, the never-ending sky — and close my eyes.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed Birdsong, please consider signing up for my Substack newsletter, Along the Hudson. You’ll receive a blend of fiction, creative nonfiction, and writing prompts delivered twice a week to your inbox.