Yesterday I saw a cardinal, a beautiful and striking thing. It was lonely on the road, dying, its wings and back broken by a car. It lifted its head and chirped its orange beak and looked at me with expressionless eyes as I drove by. I watched it shrink in the rearview, watched it put its head back on the ground and begin to wait again. It was a violent red in the middle of all that gray, a violent red fading to gray. And I hoped a more compassionate someone came along after me to pick it up and comfort it, to make the end a little less lonely. But I know this isn’t so, know I was the one sent to comfort and instead drove away. Tonight, with the wind moving over the vast fields of wheat, I will dream of you, a beautiful and striking thing. It will be one of those strange dreams where everything is upside down and I won’t recognize your face, but you’ll be you and I’ll smile and you’ll be the dying cardinal chirping and watching me, your crest of feathers flattened on your head. And I will want to stop and hold you, help and save you. But I will drive away, watch you disappear, confused and lonely, in the rearview. I will wake shaking and sweating, lonely and confused. Angry at having to forget about you all over again.