The birds have been using my porch as a short cut again, disrespecting me, shooting across my line of vision at great speed, no fear I might get up off my rocker and give chase, no fear of collision.

I know they can sense my troubles, my infirmity, just like she can tell when I’m in distress, feeling helpless. I’ll call out to her the best I can. Ugh. Ugh.

She’ll come running; imposing herself right where the birds like to fly, between me and where I should have been looking -- off in the distance somewhere. She’ll take my face in her hands, touching her warm lips to my furrowed brow as if she’s soothing a small child. It’s all right, she’ll say. It’s all right, husband. And then she’ll notice the blood trickling from my ear, the dead grackle at her feet, its broken beak. That’s when she’ll look into my eyes and see I can stand it no longer. She’ll get angry for me, kicking the little bird off the porch, its blood streaked across the planks I’d hammered down so long ago with my shock absorbent Eastwing, but she won’t know what else to do besides run back inside and fetch a warm towel for pressing up against my wound. I’ll try and pinch some of her apron when she returns, so she knows I want her right where she is, between me and what she thinks I should be looking at, our unplowed fields, a tonic keeping me from getting sicker, she thinks, she hopes, reminding me of the better days when the corn grew good and tall and she’d bring me a beer out on the porch just before putting supper on the table.

What the heck, I may just ask her for a beer. My love, I’ll say, smiling and hanging onto her apron ‘til her sweet face lights up. Then I’ll lean back on my rocker and wait, rest my sore feet up on the railing like I used to do, tapping my shirt pocket for a smoke. She’ll be frowning when she reappears, even as the screen door’s slamming shut. My work boots are dirty. Hey, but the corn’s good and tall this year, I’ll say, happy as a field of giant marshmallows because she’ll be holding two cans of beer in all actually. I’ll reach over and pull her rocker in line with my own, eager to hear her sipping the Coors right out of the can like she’s doing something mischievous, like she used to do when we were younger and hiding from her mom and dad.

My, but they’re distracting, she’ll say, already catching a buzz. I’ll hear it in her voice. She’ll be slurring her words. Those fucking birds, she’ll say, forcing me to shift my focus to the dead space between here and there -- there where the corn is good and tall just like when I was growing it, and here, the tip of my nose.

Those fucking birds, she’ll say. I can’t look away.

I hear that, I’ll answer back, playing the tough guy. I can hardly look away, myself.

She’ll be so pissed; her apron already balled up and tossed over the railing. She’ll cover over my body with hers. I know it. My love, she’ll cry out, my husband, as she’s trying to reason with the last of the grackles shooting out from under the porch at great speed. She’ll be so pissed, I’ll have to hold her tightly in my arms, soothing her with a peck here and there, my lips clearing away the pain from her eyes ‘til she can see nothing but the corn growing good and tall, and me, a ramble kind of walking, like I was just aching to come in from a particularly hard day’s work.

Those fucking birds, I’ll want to say.