In the country, a girl and her father traveling share the room across from us. The man is fifty and horn-rimmed and vaguely comical. I can't see him in the girl.
Sparrows fly through, thirty in a spiral between the horses and the trees.
At the paddock, I read and watch the riders round and round. I take pictures and collect smiles.
The sparrows, one by one, bend stalks of wheat. At once, they let them go like springs and vault.
At dinner, the girl and I are first to the table. She lifts the lid and sniffs the pot and smiles at me and says "Mmm, fajna dupa!" then laughs out "zupa!" Soup and ass are perfect rhymes.
They appear and they disappear.
Horseplay and squeals from the room across the way, then, "Ow-wow! Daddy, that's too rough. Let go."
The daughter is with another girl, talking in another room, when I walk through. One of them hums a tune I know from somewhere. When I hum it to myself later, I remember it's Love Story.
And they whirr.
I am upstairs reading with my back to the window and the door open to let the air blow through. The girl across the landing opens her door and stands in just a towel and smiles across at me. I smile back, she waits a beat, two beats, three beats, still smiling, wondering whether I'll breathe, and steps back. She leaves her door ajar.
A whorl of sparrows fruit a heap of brush saved for the fire and look me in the eye, bird, bird, and bird.
When the father and daughter leave at the end of the week, he follows her in the goodbye procession. She kisses the women first, then comes to me. Her father puts on shock and makes as if he might proceed to cancel of my days.
They grind their stolen ears of wheat and look me in the eye.
On the hill, no birds. I set out a silver thermos in the dirt and it exhales.