I waited until the magnolia blossoms fell. Brown and bruised, they layered the ground like wet feathers, refusing to separate even when I dug deep with the blade of my shovel.
The rain was a sprinkle rather than a downpour, comfortable enough to shrug off my jacket as I grew warm with effort.
Wet dirt has its own distinct sound, thick and sluggish rather than the eager staccato rain of dry earth. The ring of metal against small stones was muffled, clay offered a reluctant invitation, and each additional shovelful hit the pile with a tired slump.
I buried her in the wet spring ground, feet together, wings folded. Beads of light rain turned grains of dirt into brown tears on the white flight feathers I had patiently cut to keep her home-bound.
Her face was cold, but still soft as I stroked her pale cheek one last time.