Neighborhood Birds

When we first moved to this neighborhood, we'd see an older man walking a three-legged dog. The man was tall and stooped like a big sea bird, angular and bellied, always dressed in slacks and a button-down with rolled-up sleeves. The dog was some kind of shepherd, with a black and white coat and perky ears. The man limped like his right leg hurt him. The dog had no hind right leg at all. They walked up the street in rain or shine, a beleaguered but happy pair.

Until the day the man walked alone. The great, albatross-shaped man limped down the street by himself, and he has walked dogless every day for three years or so, no matter the weather. I see him and construct the life he walks home to: the TV dinner while watching Jim Lehrer, an hour or so working on his antique camera collection, a cup of tea and a crossword puzzle...who knows. Fair or not, the life I've made for him is lonely.

Until the man walked with a lady. Today, our albatross walked hand-in-hand with a petite white-haired woman. She was handsome, and they looked happy. Maybe she has been there all along, but has never liked walking. Or maybe they have found each other at last, an albatross and a dove.