A piazza in Venice, Italy
I wait alone. Le Ristorante al Gabbiano opens in thirty minutes. I sit at a wrought iron table and study its mosaic tile top. Some tiles are cracked, some are missing, all are weather worn and faded into a creamy gray mélange. Just a hint of true color remains in crevices where tiles are tightly abutted and the salty air from the canal hasn’t penetrated.
The morning is gray and so heavy with mist that my hair feels damp. Still, I am pleased to be in Venice and content to be alone. I feel meditative, breathing slowly and deeply, my mind as calm as it ever could be. I close my eyes from time to time. Often, I pause to write a note on my tablet.
My reverie is interrupted. A small brown bird lands on my table. His arrival is obscured by the near-opaque fog.
He is a bold little thing. In just two hops he is close enough to watch me writing. One hop closer and he seems to understand my work. He looks from my pen to my tablet, then back again, repeatedly. I sit as still as possible, watching him. He is beautiful, really, not solid brown but blessed with flecks of red and gold. He is obviously interested in what I am doing.
He knows I am watching him. I stop writing but he continues to stare at my tablet. I think he is waiting for something. Perhaps he thinks my tablet is food. That must be it. He’s waiting for me to share something, some food, with him. For a tick of a moment we are in a stand-off, staring at each other. Then, since I have nothing but words to give him, he leaves.
I feel honored by his visit, no matter what his purpose. I know what it feels like to want something that won’t be offered.
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