Maree Reedman

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What Is Worth Saving

White wings flapping
on the asphalt
as I drove to work one morning.
I slowed to a stop,
jabbed on the hazards and got out.
It was a sulphur-crested cockatoo.

I grabbed my gym towel from the backseat
and strode across the road,
holding my hand out at the traffic like a cop:
this was no place for fear,
except I was afraid if I didn’t help,
it would become one of those urban open graves
of feathers and flesh.

Her beak was bloody.
I bundled her in the towel
and laid her on the passenger seat.
She hissed as I drove
so I placed my hand on her
and said, Ssh, ssh, shh.
She quietened, regarded me with the fossilised eyes
of a million dinosaur years.
I stopped in the vet hospital carpark
and tried to pick her up,
but her feet cemented
onto the seatbelt buckle.
The receptionist came out and put her in a plastic carrier.
I called work to say I might be late
the woman who answered
unimpressed I saved a cockatoo.

I visited the hospital on the way home.
The bird was eating and moving around,
she was bruised but no broken bones
and the vet hoped to find her owner.
When I told the story to my husband
he tightened his mouth
and said, Well, if you’re comfortable to risk your life.

A few nights before it happened,
I watched a movie with him.
One of the actors said,
One life is not worth more than another’s
and as we got into bed, I said, I believe that.


Maree Reedman lives in Brisbane with one husband, two cockatiels, and five ukuleles. Her poetry has appeared/is forthcoming in Australia and America in Naugatuck River Review, Chiron Review, The Tipton Poetry Journal, StylusLit, Hecate, and Unbroken.