I sang it when he was brand new and still completely stunned to find himself on earth. I sang it while holding his foot through the slats of the crib, a flashlight in my other hand creating planets of light on the ceiling. I sang it stretched out next to him once he’d grown large enough for a bed, as softly and monotonously as I’d read his favorite bedtime book, over and over until his breathing changed. Blackbird fly, each night my voice the only sound punctuating the dark. Time slowed almost to a stop for those moments when I couldn’t leap up and go do something, and my mind would wander, mostly straight down into a pit of worry but sometimes out into space, diverted up into the sky, drifted toward winter trees without leaves, sharp against the setting sun, into the light of the dark black night.

Eli grew up to be afraid of birds, take these sunken eyes, largely thanks to Grandpa Hal showing him the Hitchcock movie one afternoon when he was eight and had no control of the remote.

Eli was almost nine before he heard the Paul McCartney version of Blackbird on the radio, which caused him to look concerned and ask me why that guy was singing my song. Paul taps his foot rhythmically, birds whistling around him, crooning quietly as if he had all the time in the world.

These days, time races by in a blur and Eli stays up long after I’ve gone to bed, into the dead of night, and both day and night he feels as if he’ll never take flight, his shoes too heavy, his aura too black, feels like he’ll never manage to connect, this old soul in a sixteen year old body already impatient with the world’s absurdities, he is only waiting, as I was only waiting for him to arrive in my lonely life, crows on the backyard gate, a glossy feather landing in a dead field, winter sun glinting off the power lines, Poe’s silhouetted beaks, into the light of the dark black night.

Beth Bilderback

Beth Bilderback is a writer in Norfolk, VA. Her work has been published in The Lascaux Review and KYSO Flash.