A Bird Flew In

I was sitting at the table in a country kitchen
the windows to my right
let in the summer morning
the door opposite me
was open
leafy twigs of maple hung
just outside
I had a typing paper pad
and an erasable pen
I was working on drawing new valves
for the hydraulic well driver
which had no punch
the way it was set up yesterday
I was just coming up with something
when a small bird
swooped in the door
and flew straight at my face

I pushed my left hand up out
in front of him
and he pulled up
almost brushing my palm
and flew back out the door
swooping out and up
but about five feet outside
:le turned and flew straight back at me
so I again held up my palm
and he turned again and went out

On his third pass I was expecting him
so I looked straight at him
and caught his eye
that slowed him up enough
so he landed on the top rung
of the chair back opposite me
which was pushed up close
to the table

He had two paper-thin two-inch
metal disks in his bill
He looked straight at me
which for him was sideways
I held my hand out palm up
He dropped the disks on the table
close enough

They were metal plates
delicately perforated in a
mottled pattern
as if they had been etched by acid
or rusted out
then repolished and anodized
to a glossy black~lightly iridescent finish
I picked one up
and the figure-ground relationships
of the perforations started shifting
and I began to recognize
a ring of animal silhouettes
around its outer edge
very lifelike
almost like a photo engraving

There was an African wildebeast
and a long-homed antelope
a greater kudu, I believe
and a mixed group
of other African grazers

The bird was still perched
on the chair back
looking at me sideways
waiting for my answer
It was so quiet between us
that I didn't actually have to speak
But it was as if I said
"Before the sun comes out of the sea it's over Africa"
And inside the word 'Africa'
we both saw
the wide plains of Kenya
the Serengeti
with vast herds grazing in the equatorial heat
and it was bright all around us
and I opened my eyes
and there was sun coming through
the clear poly tarp door
of my bent pole lodge
and there was about a foot
of snow in the woods
that morning