by Steve De France
A dappled brown sparrow rests
on a kitchen towel. Neither young nor old
but of some indeterminate age.
Death would not be your first thought
but her breathing comes in short spurts of life,
her feathers ripple as if in a wind, yet the air is still.
She can neither sit nor stand but tilts dangerously
as if taking a curve in the road
or making a steep skyward sparrow-bank,
one that bends time and slides on wind currents
in some larger sky. I press the towel to prop her up.
For a moment she looks at me, not afraid
but with assessment.
Buttressed by the towel she can not
tilt to either side, so she falls backward
her head inclines sharply
wings extended high
eyes looking out from some
parallel sparrow universe
some place knowable only to birds.
Startled by a sudden wind gust
blackbirds swirl in expanding circles
their shadows marking the edges
of hemlock trees. Through the sun
it begins to rain.