I hatched in the spring of 2014. My mother’s was a bonny clutch of four. Of course I hatched first. Next came my brother Lar. Finally I saw the beak-tip of my sister Bup. We three gathered round the fourth egg. It neither cracked nor trembled. When the trees began to flower, my mother pushed it from the nest.

Our nest, in the girder of the elevated railcar, vibrated round the clock. We felt the passage of every train.  Far below, taxicabs and commuters crawled along a filthy street. Plastic bags blew across the sidewalk. Our parents, perching on the edge of the nest, added a pile of chalky white and green droppings to the scene.

My mother’s first gift was a louse.  To toughen me up, she said. And get me ready for life on the streets. On my body, the louse had nowhere to hide. I had not a feather. Like all babes, I was born naked. Just a few downy yellow strands covered my pale skin. A quill had begun to make its presence known, but by no means had it emerged or unfurled. So the louse, like a man in the rain without an umbrella, scurried back and forth in extreme agitation. It itched terribly.