Saturday, January 08, 2011

`Making His Ending'

With awe and revulsion, two girls on the playground told me they had found a dead bird. It was in the corner on the sidewalk, in front of the door to the gymnasium – a house sparrow looking not diminished in death but somehow larger, as though life had constricted its spirit. Blood dotted beak and feathers. The head was twisted unnaturally, and it seemed to have slammed into the window of the door.

“Is it dead?” the more shaken of the girls asked.

I thought of its Latin name – Passer domesticus -- which always brings to mind Horace, and this time it sounded like a bilingual pun, for this sparrow had definitely passed. Had I been alone I might have dumped it in the trash can but the girls didn’t need to see that. Instead, I wrapped the bird in a plastic bag. We walked across the soccer field and into the woods, and I placed the bag under a mossy rock and sprinkled it with dead leaves. The girls liked that. I pointed to sparrows pecking and flitting about in the parking lot, and said, “There’s his brothers and sisters.”

The first poem in Moore Moran’s The Room Within (Swallow Press, 2010) is “Winter Arriving”:

“Down garden wall
at dusk today
a sparrow, bending
in a wild fall,
at my boot lay,
making his ending.

“Onto my thumb
his blood welled brown
staining my gaze;
I lingered numb
in the ice and haze
through which he’d flown

“his final burst.
Roused by dark’s hush
I laid him away,
then heard the first
calls from the brush
where sparrows stay.”

1 comment:

Robin Bates said...

There's a good Lucille Clifton poem that touches on this situation as well:

for the bird who flew against our window one morning and broke his natural neck

my window
is his wall.
in a crash of
he breaks the arrogance
of my definitions
and leaves me grounded
in his suicide