Friday, July 1, 2011


We are through working for the day when I go to the backyard to watch my mom finish her drink. Before I sit down I take the cigarette from her hand and take a long drag, then place it back between her fingers. In front of her is a tall glass of ice and limes and the remains of a Vodka tonic. I sit down on the seat next to her and lean against the back cushion, my face bent dramatically towards the sky.

"Oh, I can't go on," I say. "It's too much."

"I know what you mean," Mom says, taking a drag of her cigarette. She looks down at the stub between her fingers. "I've gone out," she laughs, reaching forward to take the pack of matches from the table. "I guess I smoke too slow."

Mom lights the end, sucks in, and holds out the cigarette for me. I take it again, surprised that I'm not enjoying the taste as much as I used to.

"You know I came out here with the binoculars to look for that bird nest," she says.

I don't know what she's talking about. I give her a look.

"There are a family of birds," she explains, "at least I think. We can hear them chirping pleasently right by our window every morning." She smiles to herself, staring off into the distance, most likely listening to the sound of birds.

"I think I found the nest actually, over by the neighbor's house. It looks like a swallow nest or something."

"What does a swallow nest look like?"

"Oh, you know, kind of like made out of mud or something. Instead of sticks. It's really quite impressive. Do you want to see?"

She stubs out her cigarette, and I follow her over to the side of the house. She's taking slow steps along the rocks, the binoculars held up to her face, staring up at the neighbors' house. "There," she says, "I think it's right there. Here," she hands me the binoculars, which are large and heavy and used to belong to her father. "You take a look."

I peer through the lens, adjust the focus, and slowly inspect the eves of the house. "You know it would look really weird if they came home and saw us doing this."

Mom laughs. "Do you see it?"

"I don't know. I see something. But it doesn't really look like a nest."

"Right, it looks like it's made out of clay or something," she says excitedly.

"Mom, there's nothing up there but a pipe from the bathroom."

"A pipe?" Mom takes the binoculars from my hand. "Let me see that." She stares up at the house again, her neck craned.

"Ha!" she laughs and looks at me. "So it is a pipe. And I thought they were just clever little birds who make nests out of clay."

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