A bird feeder dangles outside my kitchen window about a foot from the glass. Drinking coffee in the morning, I watch birds alight there. They have yellow throats, red beaks, blue wings. Any motion is enough to scare them. So I sit still.
Someone else sits still on our side of the glass waiting between the banana bowl and the ceramic jar that stores our kitchen utensils. It’s Amtrak. My son gave our cat her name because as a kitten he thought she could run as fast as a railroad. She’s an Abyssinian with short brown fur.
Amtrak crosses her paws. Her tail drums slowly on the counter. She’s been doing this for the last several years. She sits between the bowls and meows at each bird that alights on the feeder. For hours, she does this. The birds ignore her, chattering and spilling seeds around them with excited swipes of their wings. In the summer when we open the window, Amtrak dares to climb out half-way and leans over the sill.
Sometimes I think she’ll test her flying abilities. A plum tree stands behind the feeder on the other side of a fence. But as a testimony to her own strong survival instincts, Amtrak has never chosen the quick way out.
I wonder what this daily watch must do to her sense of worth. No bird ever volunteers to fly into her mouth no matter how plaintively she calls. Sometimes she exits the house to the garden and studies the birds from the ground. She is an astute observer. When she’s seen too much. she re-enters the house. She looks at me with large hazel eyes, hoping, I think, I will catch a bird for her.
I have come to empathize with Amtrak. I have been writing for many years. Occasionally, I attend a writer’s conference, watching the agented writers, the publishers, the editors, all the brightly feathered ones, at the feeder of success. My place is to sit on the other side of the window and to keep writing.