creative nonfiction by Marta Regn

Four days ago my beloved drove along a gravel road while rain came down in wet ropes around us. I rode in the backseat beside a shoebox around which I’d fastened the seatbelt to keep the box steady so as not to scare the fledgling huddled in its corner. As we went, I tipped up the top, watched the bird’s gray chest vibrate with its quickening heartbeat, with its impossibly small breath. This mourning dove had come to us by way of a fall. It’d been in the grass at my beloved’s feet, in shock and unable to fly on a too-hot-for-spring day. He’d taken the grounded bird home in the shoebox, kept the cardboard cracked so the bird might feel the air, and followed the internet’s orders not to feed it nor give it water. All night as the temperature plummeted back toward something seasonal and sensible, my beloved fretted. He rolled over and woke up and walked back and forth from bed to box, hopeful and helpless, feeling like that little bird, probably. In the morning when the rain came and the thunder started up, he drove as carefully and fretfully as he slept, out of the city and into the mountains where the wildlife center waited for us and our little dove. The lightning cracked in the clouds like an egg, and I thought the bird must be so, so scared. I thought I should explain what lightning is as if this creature were a child. I considered how I might do this, how I’d count the space between flash and thunder, how I’d hold my bird-child’s delicate hand and rub its brittle back as softly and sweetly as my beloved held the steering wheel and feathered the brake pedal over the rough and rattling gravel. I watched my beloved’s eyes flicker in the rearview mirror, and I thought that I must learn how to do this: I must learn what electricity is. I must learn to explain things that fall from the sky and how we can come to love them.

Marta Regn
(she/her) is a writer, student, and yoga instructor living in Southwest Virginia. She's an MFA candidate at Hollins University, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Hunger, Had, Sky Island Journal, and others. A past participant in Orion Magazine's Environmental Writing Workshop and a previous contributor to the World Wildlife Fund's blog, she writes about and out of nature, place, and our human relationship with the environment.