(I never called her mommy but today I feel like a happier child recalling the real life story she left that I am sharing with you now.)
I remember the day she walked in and was holding this black and white bird. She looked determined as she wrapped this scared shaking bird in a towel and continued to make a crude but effective cast for his wing. I do not know how he broke it or how she came upon him but I watched with a child’’s wonder as she rolled him about tending to his broken wing.
When his wound was dressed her brow furrowed in concern yet she seemed pleased with her efforts. As we babysat this bird she left to gather red willows in the bush. Suddenly the bird was in his new home. A perfect roomy cage made perfectly from red willow branches and red willow ties.
He lived in our home for weeks. I recall times when she would feed and water him, putting a blanket over his cage when he would squawk incessantly. Many times she would walk by his cage as he chattered saying "Oh shut up Squawky!" In an affectionate and loving manner.
Some mornings she would attend to him and one morning took off his cast as he squawked at her in disapproval. Once the cast was off he gave his feathers a shake and proceeded to walk around strutting happily. He did not leave however, for he could not fly. Back into his cage he would go acting like a pampered priss.
Every couple of days she and the bird would exchange pleasantries as she encouraged him to fly. I now wonder if he was simply spoiled and intrigued by her physical beauty and obviously kind heart. He would fly no further than the fence and would act so sickly she would retrieve him.
She told me later that he was a Magpie and she named him Squawky for he was very noisy and demanding with his squawking.
One day as she opened her hands to set him free, he flew to the tallest tree and squawked directly at her. A long goodbye they shared as I watched in wonder. I knew I would miss him as he departed high into the sky.
Life continued. Soon there would appear this Magpie in the bush squawking loudly and she would walk out to greet him "Is that you Squawky?"
Many years came and left and she still greeted the morning Magpies. She passed away a while ago and to this day when on the rez and the Magpie flies by me, and I know he has long since passed too. I say loudly "Squawky is that you?"
- ©Simone McLeod, September 7, 2012