Lucinda Kempe ~ Rupture

A white sand heron fell onto our prop­er­ty. I thought it was a stray garbage bag caught in the brush until my hus­band said oth­er­wise. It was beau­ty in death. Almost appeared still fly­ing. With long yel­low beak and green half-closed eye it appeared to have flown off an ancient Egyptian tomb.

There was no sign of a wound. Not a scab, a tear or a drop of red blood. Just a downed bird on the wing of the grass.

I looked close­ly at its half-closed eye, my gray and white cat at my feet, purring.

An omen? I thought about my own life, the year of depres­sion, booz­ing, titrat­ing med­ica­tion, mourn­ing a fat mem­oir I’d writ­ten but not pub­lished because of secrets untold, and of the recent horrors—a pan­dem­ic smoth­er­ing in its embrace and riots in the streets because of too many cru­el and aggres­sive police.

Then my daugh­ter arrived from upstate with a home­made paint­ed bird house. I’d pho­tographed the heron and she’d paint­ed it in pro­file, its wings embrac­ing the woods, its closed green eye and white feath­ers out­lined with splash­es of black.

Probably no omen, rather heaven’s crea­ture offer­ing live wit­ness, a reminder of the thread-thin grip of life.


Lucinda Kempe’s work has been pub­lished or is forth­com­ing in Matter Press, Breadcrumbs, Midway Review, Bending Genres, The Southampton Review, New World Writing, and Elm Leaves Journal. A 2018 Stony Brook M.F.A. grad­u­ate, her nar­ra­tive non­fic­tion, Wigleaf long-list­ed her micro fic­tion in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, her work was includ­ed in Bending Genres Anthology.