Ruth Z. Deming, winner of a Leeway Grant for Women Artists, has had her work published in lit mags including Hektoen International, Creative Nonfiction, Haggard and Halloo, and Literary Yard. A psychotherapist and mental health advocate, she runs New Directions Support Group for people with depression, bipolar disorder, and their loved ones. Viewwww.newdirectionssupport.org. She runs a weekly writers' group in the comfy home of one of our talented writers. She lives in Willow Grove, a suburb of Philadelphia. Her blog is www.ruthzdeming.blogspot.com.
THE PEACH TREE: LEAVING HOME
Our family discovered this neighborhood about twenty generations ago. We’re considered fecund, resourceful, and wary. My partner and I scoped it out and one day, I heard his cries, “This is it, dear. Perfect.” He flew over a peach tree, with tiny budding peaches no bigger than a kernel of corn. Together we built the nest – he is such a, well, “peach” – and when we mated for the very first time, I so enjoyed the feeling, the quick inner thrust that made my eyes close in ecstasy. A new feeling entered my long grey body, right above my long tail feathers, where, in ancient times, haberdashers would kill doves like us for our feathers.
Soon afterward, a weight pressed down on my long body. Eggs, certainly. I remember when I myself hatched and the feeling I had when I scratched myself free. The longest journey I’d ever taken. A lovely cloud-like white was the egg I scratched through.
My partner gives me a break by sitting on the eggs while I explore the neighborhood. Shiny things that move and then stop, reflect the light of the sun – they are vehicles - many colors, orange, white, metallic gray, and a huge white one with a shiny toolbox in the back. Carriages with children inside parade up and down the street. Leashed dogs walk by on the sidewalk but as I soar above them their awful zapping frightens me, the horrid things, but I have one thing they do not: the power of flight. When it’s safe, I dive onto a smooth green hill of a lawn, and feast on slow-moving grubs, juicy worms, and squiggly ants. Good healthy food to fatten up the hatchlings.
So it was I remained invisible to all for several days in the tree. Then a she-person, who smelled like sun-tan lotion, shaded her eyes and standing on her tiptoes, gasped as she discovered me. Next thing I know she’s out there with her camera. Click! Click! Click!
The man-person who makes a frightening racket when he mows his lawn is soon brought over for the view. They blick and they bluck and they blick some more. That is the way these human birds talk. I stare at them with my well-positioned right eye, keeping perfectly still. At night comes blissful sleep and all fears cease. The moon covers us from on high like a mother bird.
When the sun rises brilliant and orange, quick-as-lightning scratches begin inside the two eggs beneath my breast. I hop aside and bend my head to watch what is happening. I hear my partner soaring overhead, his feathers flapping in the wind. He sits on a branch above us and watches while crooning a happiness melody.
Out come two moist hatchlings. Naked, featherless, eyes tightly closed. Papa flits down and we joyfully peck one another on our heads, knowing our first family has just begun.
We will not be here long. The layer upon layer of leaves on the peach tree protects Papa, me and the two hatchlings when the May rains pour down mercilessly, day after day. P’shew! P’shew! I sing a soothing lullaby to my little ones, who are learning from everything I do. In only fourteen days, my darlings learn to fly and eat on their own. Papa and I peck their miniature grey heads, where tiny feathers now grow.
At last the urge inside us beckons and we must fly away. I look down at our first home, loosely knit, not tight like the home of a robin, cemented with mud. As I soar over the neighborhood, my mate in tow, I twist and turn upward, toward the sun, faces watching from below as I sing my song of joy.