From a corner of an eye there was a movement. A line of light between his glossy black eyes and mine had met. It was small, and I thought it a ground squirrel, there are many of them here, but it almost immediately took low flight for a nearby maple. It was the hesitancy of his start and a flight not quick that I noticed. Maybe he was a young-of-the-year, but it was September.
I saw him again another afternoon and I began to see. His feathers were no longer the smooth, flat orderliness of perfect youth, and he was just a whit unsteady on his feet. Still, he was feeding in the low-cut lawn, perfectly exposed and alone in the hot sun. It was then I understood. So it has come. The compassion, the pity were unnecessary, and unwelcome. It was a human affectation. In a sparrow's world there is nothing comparable.
Only God sees the sparrow fall, but even God doesn't do anything about it." ~ John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
It could very well be that he was utterly blind by then. A condition not apparent by the perfectly black gloss of his eyes. Yet, he turned his head to me. Maybe he heard my cautious footfalls, maybe he only felt them. Maybe he turned to meet his final predator eye-to-eye in an act of
dignity only a sparrow can understand.
I let him be, of course. When I returned to check on him I found what one would always find if nature could be completely honest with us; a confusion of down and a wing feather dispersing in the breeze of the kill-site.
Sparrows do not often say goodbye. - WES:::