Birds that Never See the Sky

There are birds living in the box store down the street. They nest in the rafters. We can hear them sing, sometimes, over the sound of the cart’s squeaking wheels and the music playing on the overhead speakers.

We can see them once in a while, too, small brown birds—sparrows maybe. They float against the ceiling like balloons. Once we watched them eating cat food from a torn bag, dipping and darting from the shelf back to the ceiling. We were the only ones who saw.

No one else looks up at the ceiling like we do, waiting in line behind the man who still pays by check, the woman who never puts in the checkout divider.

We say: Look.

We say: Look, there they are.

Cathy Ulrich’s work can be found in various magazines, including Monkeybicycle, The Citron Review and Chicago Literati. She lives in Montana, but she doesn’t even own a pair of cowboy boots.