A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
The cold came late that fall and the songbirds were caught off guard. By the time the snow and the wind began in earnest, too many had been suckered into staying, and instead of flying south, instead of already having flown south, they were huddled in people’s yards, their feathers puffed for some modicum of warmth. I was looking for a job. I was a student and needed babysitting work, and so I would walk from interview to interview in these attractive but wintry neighbourhoods, the eerie multitudes of robins pecking at the frozen ground, dun-gray and stricken- though what bird in the best of circumstances does not look a little stricken- until at last, late in my search, at the end of a week, startlingly, the birds had disappeared.