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The sudden sweep 
of wings most unlikely,
seven ordinary birds

rushing the narrow corridor.
They fly towards the locked door
where they bank and turn,

a lovely arch in this stillness.
One breath lifting past
our rooms, down to the dayroom,

beyond the soda machine.
One more spin. We stand
and watch this exhalation, 

outdoors strangely indoors.
During the final trip
one small bird loses its way,

plows through the nurses' station, 
stops dead in the staff room. The others
leave it behind, of course, aim

for the open door, no doubt
headed for the Pacific Ocean's
scented wind just blocks away.

We're stunned. Does
survival arrive uninvited,
and what about the lost bird?

No wild wing beats, no
noise. A patient shoulders
her way in, and between

her cupped hands I glimpse
one bitter eye.
She walks to the patio,

half a ruined tennis court
surrounded by a locked
fence, grassless, without

flowers. She sets the bird
on cement. It hops
a few times before

it finally unruffles
its wings and lifts directly
into the damp air.