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Between Two Corridors


A Ubiquity of Sparrows

by Craig Arnold

A certain traveler who knew many continents was asked what he found most remarkable of all. He replied: the ubiquity of sparrows.
—Adam Zagejewski

Sparrow who drags a footlong crust of bread behind him

Sparrow whose head is pecked bald from so many quarrels

Sparrow who cocks her head to one side     as if doubtful
Sparrow who follows every flick of your hands moving

Sparrow who spies from far off the flag of a shaken tablecloth

Sparrows dashing to any spot where sparrows are gathered

Sparrow beating her wings to haul off a strawberry
Sparrow bandito with black mask and bandanna who robs her

Sparrow the poet’s lover keeps close in her lap
to make him jealous     nipping her finger hard     harder

Sparrow chasing a papery butterfly     flapping and snapping
the butterfly each time impossibly escaping
the sparrow savage     the sparrow persistent     is there no mercy

Sparrow chick pinfeathered     hunched on the window ledge

Sparrow roasted over a piece of bread to catch the entrails

Sparrow whose feet barely sway the twig of a willow
who leaps into the air with the smallest of leaf-shivers

Sparrow the color of dust and mud and dry grass-stems

Sparrows kept on the wing by farmers banging saucepans
kept flying until they drop     a soft heap of bodies

Sparrow who says cheap sparrow who says Philip Philip

Sparrow who keeps the secrets of wistful men and women

Sparrow shot with a pellet gun     sparrow who crackles
under a boy’s bootsole     like brown October leaves

Sparrow whose fall from the sky is noticed by what god

Sparrow who squats in the bluebird’s nest     in the martin houses
who moves in with a gang of thugs and there goes the neighborhood

Sparrow who shot Cock Robin and later was hanged like a thief

Sparrow astray in the airport     tracked by the one-eyed guns

Sparrow said to have brought the English unto belief

Sparrow who came to the king’s hall in the midst of a snowstorm
fluttering in through one window and out of another

Sparrow do you imagine more than a little warm
rambunctious life between two corridors of nothing

the one forever before     the one forever after

Single Sparrow

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Bodger permalink
    30/07/2009 9:53 am

    More than 200 years ago, Benjamin Franklin stood before the Constitutional Convention and said, I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live the more convincing proof I see of this truth: that God governs the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall without His notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without His aid?

    Not sure what I think of this, but it’s probably relevant to your list.

  2. Henry McGhie permalink
    28/09/2009 9:59 am

    The Collections Development Panel, along with the director and the artist, discussed the sparrow skins at a meeting on 3rd September.

    The blog responses and discussion were summarised as:
    “What factors are causing the population decline? Is it decking in gardens? In the past there was always food available in towns and cities, including through horse feed/manure. This is a similar issue to that of bees and orchids. We already make nesting boxes as part of our public programmes. Perhaps the nesting boxes should be put up as communal nesting boxes but not near the Museum because of insect pests! Museum can promote helpful activity.”

    The group suggested that the skins should be kept as they are “a challenge for us to do something about the environment. Investigate possibility of establishing nesting boxes.”

    The decision was to retain the skins.

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