By Aston Lester

I met a cardinal today. 

She sits atop a branch and sings down to me about the world she has seen. Her songs are beautiful, I thought. Louisiana is all I’ve known, all I’ve had the chance to love, and then a being like her flies into my life and shows me something more.

She is a restless little bird. She flies here and there, and I chase her through the woods until she settles and sings to me some more. We both know she cannot stay. She is only here for the winter, then she’ll fly off again, far away from me. 

Her coming back to visit is nice to think about, comforting to say aloud. But this meeting was by chance, and we might never meet again, but I’ve always been lucky. Lucky enough to have met her at all.

Maybe I could follow, I propose, but I am flightless. I’ll find a job that I can do on the road, then I can visit you sometime, wherever you are. It’s a sweet dream.

She dreams of settling in her own little patch of woods, building her a nest and a home. She wonders if I know how to build nests. No, but I could learn.

I lay on the ground under her tree, eyes closed and with my hands resting behind my head. She sings her lovely songs, but there is a trembling in her voice. 

The seconds and the minutes and the hours pass with ease. We try to hold on to them, make the most of them, but they are just passing through. 

I lay there listening, but the season is changing now, and her singing is getting harder to hear.

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