Sticky summer and I’ve moved into my parents’ home. Two months since the dog (our dog, the first dog, my dog) slipped away on an operating table. A robin nests in the eaves of the deck, lays four perfect eggs. For once, I see that particular shade of blue in the form of its namesake. We are all something like expecting mothers, nudging and pointing each time the robin roosts, patient, gapped beak expelling hot air, on her incubating children. We murmur protection spells each morning, take pictures on our phones to send to friends as if each egg bears our own surname.
One at a time, the eggs fall to the patchy grass in the night, split and spilling. Not fall. Pushed. By blue jays we come to view as greedy, enemies, thieves. We longed for the hatching of those birds the way I long for my sunflower sprouts to grow tall and sturdy: something to love, something to chip away at the ache of loss felt each time a scrap of food falls from the countertop. That split second between forgetting and bending down to pick it up. The robin perches on the sharp edge of her barren nest one last time. She screams. We turn our backs, her grief grotesque in the thick damp heat.
It happens three more times: nest first, then eggs, then death in shades of sick yellow. The fourth time the skeleton of a nest goes up, my father breaks apart and scatters the twigs and roots as if to say, “There is no more room for ghosts here.”
Molly Andrea-Ryan is a poet and prose writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sledgehammer Lit, Blue River Review, and Moist Poetry Journal.