Playing the Wounded Bird
a cautionary tale
by Nancy Harris McLelland
Before you play the wounded bird
consider the charadrius vociferus
commonly known as the killdeer.
Because she builds her nest in shortgrass fields
and sometimes parking lots, nature compensates
with a behavior called injury feigning.
She attempts to protect her fledglings
by making a strident and piping sound
as she hops on the ground,
and flaps a fake broken wing
hoping to fool the cunning coyote
with her plaintive over here, over here.
As I walk down a country road
and harken to her cry,
I reply, “I am not your enemy.”
Driven by fear and destined by nature
ever to be the wounded bird,
she’s incapable of making that distinction.
And you? Must you persist in acting the one with a broken wing
hoping to lure the one who needs most to mend a broken thing?
* * * * *
For Nancy Harris McLelland, home means Nevada. She divides her time between Carson City, the capitol, and Tuscarora, an almost ghost town in the ranching country fifty miles north of Elko. She publishes on her blog, Writing from Space—Memoir, Essays, and Poetry from the Wide, Open Spaces of Northeastern Nevada, www.writingfromspace.com, and is also accessible through her Facebook page Tuscarora Writers Retreats.