Ghost in the Garden


You’re talking to a friend using an internet-based voice service.  You’re sitting by an open window, enjoying sun and the scents of Spring.  The friend you’re speaking to at that moment is a continent away; England is a quarter of the way around the globe from your position in Mid-West America.  They’re in their garden enjoying the evening and watching as the sun slowly creeps toward the horizon.  There’s a pause and silence punctuates the air as you both reach an organic end to a conversation.  A male sparrow on a nearby branch outside your window chirps loudly to attract a mate nearby and you look up toward the wild call.

The chirping was meant to reach the lovely little lady sparrow on the branch at the top of the tree in your side yard, but it ends up travelling so much farther than the boisterous male ever imagined.  Instead, a robin perched atop a trellis clothed in English ivy hears something strange.  A romantic sparrow from somewhere is calling her like a siren song from above.  She twitches her head around but doesn’t see another bird nearby.  He sounds exotic to her.  She’s alone just outside the screened-in patio where people enter and exit her domain.  She looks toward every corner of the tiny fenced in space, into every tree and between the leaves that could possibly obscure the bird she so desperately desires.  She knows she heard him.  He was just there somewhere.  The little robin looks over toward the person lounging in the chair nearby who’s sipping a drink and just recently finished talking to himself. 

You’re still looking up toward the little bird on the branch.  His call did nothing to snare the attention of the female ten feet above.  She’s looking off into the sky, pondering her next move; she could possibly be playing hard to get.  The male knows this, too.  He beckons her over to his spacious wooden perch once more.  His song, like a flautist overcome with passion, pierces the air and unintentionally echoes once more into a faraway land. 

The robin’s heart flutters and breaks a little more when she hears his voice again.  He’s invisible, unattainable, absent from her life yet so prominently highlighted in this moment.  She’s obsessed with the notion of floating down to where he sits, locking eyes with him and ruffling her feathers in satisfaction.  She day dreams about their heads gently touching one another and sharing a sunset with the bird she’s been waiting for.  But alas, his voice is merely the nebulous reminder that he’s only a reverie.  She frantically calls out to him to tell him she doesn’t know where he is.

 You watch as the impatient little male releases the branch and excitedly flaps upward toward the lady he’s targeting.  He hesitates for a millisecond; he thinks he hears a desperate plea for his attention, but dismisses it as nothing. The lady sparrow takes off, their playful chase visible for a moment until they hang a right and disappear behind the brick of the neighbor’s house.  You look back at the empty tree and imagine you can still see their silhouettes sitting there in front of you.  Your friend wishes you goodnight and the call ends.  You close the window and move on with your day.

A robin is suddenly alone on her trellis once more.  There are no people, no birds, no wildlife around her now.  She imagines hearing his voice again, but can’t remember the exact words he said.  She wonders if there are ghosts in her garden.  Her stomach sinks and she looks out toward the sky and hoping she sees someone, anyone, flying near her.  Maybe he’ll come if she spends the night in this spot.  He sounded so different than every other bird she’d ever met; he was exotic and sounded desperate to meet her.  No one had ever expressed such interest in her before.  She finds a comfortable position and nestles into the leaves, a long night of waiting perched delicately beside her.