It was clearly hurt.
The pigeon’s wings were stretched across the sidewalk in a position that was almost graceful. It didn’t move as we approached. It stared at us and its little breast started pulsing in and out quickly. Terrified.
It was a sunny day, sixty degrees, after a beautiful afternoon playing hooky in a park. Who am I kidding, I have nothing to play hooky from, except my own ambitions. I convinced a friend to play hooky on a Wednesday afternoon, so I felt the hookiness through her. But she had to get back to work, so we left. Then we came across the pigeon by the busiest intersection in Adams Morgan.
With a closer look we could see it had a broken wing and leg. The wing was jagged and the foot was sticking sideways. We couldn’t leave it. I called animal rescue. My friend ignored work and stayed with me as we waited for the pigeon saviors to show.
I didn’t want to name it because I thought it would die. I didn’t want to get attached. But my friend named it Stu, so I named it Sir Pigeon. We stood close to it so others wouldn’t step on Sir Stu Pigeon. In fact, many passersby nearly walked into us for having the audacity to stand in the middle of a busy sidewalk. Then they would look confused, look down, and gape. I wrote WE CALLED ANIMAL RESCUE on a piece of paper so everyone wouldn’t look so sad.
It had three sets of eyelids, clear, orange, and gray, and each set blinked one by one in pain. It took quick breaths that shifted the damaged wing in and out. When I leaned forward for a closer look, its breathing increased into a panic. It was completely vulnerable to the nearness of me.
The pigeon savior showed up after fifteen minutes. She wore a khaki shirt and tattooed arms and told us she had just saved a squirrel down the street. She placed Sir Pigeon into a blanket-filled cage and told us they would take him to a wildlife rehabilitation center. That he would be okay. That he might never fly again, but he would live.
All of this doesn’t make me feel that great. Earlier that afternoon, someone on the street asked if I could buy them a sandwich. I smiled and said “not today.” But a freaking pigeon is hurt? Stop everything. It was selfish. I wanted to feel better. I saw something that was hurt and I, too, was hurt. I watched its blinking eyes and was reminded that I, too, had eyes that blink. I wanted the pain to go away. For both of us. And, for a moment, it did. The broken pigeon would live.
Ellie of the Week: Bought her a bed. It’s a little too big.