Terrible Gods by Al McDermid

I’m sitting in the park, under a big maple, intent on reading some poetry, when a fledgling drops out of the tree and lands next to me. It is so young and ugly that I cannot discern its breed, and it’s squawking like all get out, undoubtedly at the shock of suddenly not being in the nest.

I look at it for awhile, thinking I should perhaps let natural selection take its course, do nothing so this individual can’t pass on the clumsy gene, or the over-anxious gene, or whatever gene caused it to tumble from the nest. It seems of little consequence one way or the other. Thousands of birds fall from nests and that’s that. Had I not been here, this one would be no different.

But this one is different. It’s flailing in the grass next to me, right now. I look up into the tree, dubious of my ability to reach even the lowest branch, let alone find the nest. Then there’s that thing about mother birds rejecting chicks handled by humans, but I don’t know if that is even true, or if it is, that it’s true for all birds.

So I pick it up, see how easy it would be to close my hand and decide the issue, and understand why we imagine that our gods are terrible.

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15 Comments

Filed under Al McDermid

15 responses to “Terrible Gods by Al McDermid

  1. This ended completed different from what I expected.

  2. I loved the ending, very pointed, don’t change it!

  3. Al McDermid

    Thanks Claire. Glad you like it.

  4. Al, this is your best. This was just so perfect in every way, language, setting, story, and voice. Perfect.

    • Al McDermid

      Wow, I seldom hear ‘perfect’, so thank you, Susan. I really appreciate it, especially since I was a bit uncertain about this one–shows what I know. LOL

  5. This story seemed more real … is it?

  6. Al, this IS one of your best, if not the best. Taut writing, clear voice, very relaxed, and a finale that brims with ambiguity. Love it. Peace…

  7. agree, a visual and meditative story with a completely unexpected last line. great piece.

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