I felt the lift as it flew from my hands; not just the release of its warm weight but an actual lift, as if I too was leaping from a pair of palms held out an upstairs window and swooping swiftly over the steeply terraced rooftops to settle on an outer branch of the great oak tree which rises above the village a couple of streets away. As I watched it land, it was as if the arm of the oak reached out to me too, across the stretching gulf of air, the jackdaw’s sudden flight stitching me to it with an invisible thread.

I don’t know how it had got in but when I came upstairs I heard it beating frantically against the closed window. I opened a pane for it but, not understanding my commands to fly “up” to the opening, it continued to jump and flap energetically against the lower glass, occasionally fixing me with its pale bright eye. Such a smart bird and so self-possessed. As I placed my hands around its back, it folded in its wings and, as I lifted it over the window frame and opened my hands, it flew out in one fluid motion, as if the holding and release were one movement, as if I and the bird – for one mutual moment – were equally graceful, equally light.

Pontycymer, Glamorgan, South Wales
4th April 2023