Yesterday, a single magpie sat on the edge of the birdbath near my north door. Its calls were singular and insistent, as if it wanted someone to hear it. When I first looked outside, I did not see what it was trying to say, but a glance to one side and down on the ground at the base of the chokecherry trees answered my question. Another magpie was there, lying still on the ground.
Once I was outside, the single magpie sat in the branches above my head, watching and waiting, while I looked at its fallen companion. The second magpie had died in the shelter of the trees, and there was no sign of what had caused its death.
I gathered up the still-iridescent body in a cloth from the garage and carried it to where I had bagged leaves and twigs from the yard. Still under the watchful eye of the bird who called me, I nestled the body of its friend in this resting place and closed the bag. Apparently satisfied with this solution, the other magpie rose into the sky and flew away as I watched.
It was a haunting moment that will stay with me for a while.
One for sorrow.