There was a whippoorwill outside our house when I was growing up. Her slow mournful call was the subject of many breakfast conversations with my father. When I moved away, I didn't miss the bird the way I'd worry over a lost tooth that would be probed again and again. Instead, her absence affected me as if a quality to the air was lacking, or like a piece of music remembered only in dreams. Every time I heard another I was transported for a few rare moments to a small frame house in Kansas. a space at the table my father built, two eggs fried in butter, and a warm spring day waiting for me.