Red Bird Alert
By Claudia Ricci
Peace went flying
from the house
the red bird
came crashing through the window.
I think it happened last week.
All was clear sailing and then.
Clear shards tinkled like wind chimes
and came clattering together in a heap on the rug.
I was asleep when it happened,
I snapped awake
and fled from my bed, barefoot, in my nightgown,
terrified by the explosion.
I still see the bird lying there,
as a single red feather
and went zigzagging toward the floor.
At first, I dared not touch
for I have heard that birds sometimes
visit in mysterious ways bringing
I dared to look
in the bird’s eye.
It filled me with pity.
I lifted the bird gently into my hand.
It weighed less than one breath,
I am still holding right now.
I held the trembling bird on its side in my palm.
I stroked its crimson feathers.
They felt like stiff red velvet.
One wing lifted. Stuttered.
I carried the bird to the door and placed it carefully
outside on the black rubber mat that reads, “WELCOME.”
It was a warm bright morning. I got dressed, I made coffee.
The bird revived and stayed through breakfast,
Shifting. Poking. Pecking at things.
I ate half a buttered English muffin. I cut a tiny piece for the bird
and threw it her way.
By the time I had my car keys in hand, jangling,
and was heading out to work,
the bird was gone.
But later that night,
As I finally got to sweeping up the glass,
I noticed, next to one shard
the black eye of the red bird
was lying there, staring back at me.
Suddenly, I could see myself,
shattered, as I started rolling on the floor.
Claudia chose an abstract painting of herself as a photo for her bio. She is an artist as well as a writer.
Claudia Ricci, Ph.D., taught English, journalism and creative writing at the University at Albany, SUNY for 14 years, and did a year-long teaching sabbatical at Georgetown University in 2009. Formerly a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and a prize-winning reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, she is now a freelancer writing both hard news and feature stories. She turned to fiction writing in 1991 and earned her Ph.D. in English (Teaching, Writing and Criticism) from SUNY Albany in 1996. Her first novel, Dreaming Maples, was published in 2002 after it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her second novel, Seeing Red, appeared in January, 2011. Her short fiction has been published in numerous literary magazines nationwide including Alaska Quarterly Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Bayou, Yemassee, Barkeater, The Adirondack Review, The MacGuffin, and Another Chicago Magazine. Ricci’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Business Week, Parents magazine and The Washington Post. She has been writing for the Huffington Post since 2008 and keeps her own blog at http://www.mystorylives.blogspot.com.
Claudia’s paintings: http://www.claudiariccipaintings.squarespace.com