The Wren




It was not an autumn leaf, but a bird, a wren. It fluttered at the base of the glass door,

confused by the reflection of the setting sun over the far hills. There was no great

problem: Professor Paul Knight would shoo it away from the glass toward the quad

before the students tramped through on their way to supper. The bird took flight, but at

the last moment, changed directions and flew back into the reflection with a thud that
belied its tiny body. It knocked itself out, and Paul, fearing for its safety carried it to his
office, hoping it would revive before he headed home. He placed it on a sheet of paper so

it wouldn’t soil his desk. No longer thought Paul, a “wren, happy tail into the wind.” A
sad quote from a sad poem by Roethke: a poem that he had taught that very week. He
packed his brief case and was ready to leave. The bird had not moved. It looked like a
delicate Japonesse painting on the white paper. Gently he moved the bird one more time.

It was dead. He resisted taking it home and going through the pet funeral that his
daughter would demand. Yet a lingering delicacy or respect kept him from tossing the
bird into the basket. Also it might scare the cleaning woman. Instead he borrowed from a
line from the Roethke poem and inscribed the white paper with his fountain Pen: autumn,
a wren/happy tail/into the wind. It looked like a haiku. He rolled the paper around the
bird, folded the ends, dropped it into the basket, and went home.







                                                                                                     Lou Masson