by John L. Stanizzi

I had seen them in the tree, and heard they mate for life, so I hung a bird feeder and waited. By the third day, sparrows and purple finches hovered and jockeyed like a swarm of bees fighting over one flower. So I hung another feeder, but the squabbling continued and the seed spilled like a shower of tiny meteors onto the ground where starlings had congregated, and blue jays, annoyed at the world, disrupted everyone except the mourning doves, who ambled around like plump old women poking for the firmest head of lettuce.

Then early one evening they came, the only ones— she stood on the periphery of the small galaxy of seed; he hopped among the nuggets, calmly chose one seed at a time, carried it to her, placed it in her beak; she, head tilted, accepted it. Then they fluffed, hopped together, did it all over again.

And filled with love, I phoned to tell you, over and over, about each time he celebrated being there, all alone, with her.