Sparrows as little gifts

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Zoomed in (and thus a bit blurry) shot of a sparrow taken at Rotary Park on the night of CHO’s January dinner. Waiting for scraps from our fish and chips…


I have noticed sparrows this week, those unobtrusive, dull, everyday birds, which nonetheless have a sparkiness and strength to them that really shines through. Birds, including sparrows (and like other animals), are relentlessly themselves too – no self-consciousness. They are like little determined gifts in a day.

I’ve just ripped the house apart to find a poem by Louise Nicholas, a local poet, about a sparrow hopping around outdoor cafe tables. You know how they keep their eyes out for crumbs, a bit like seagulls at the beach waiting for leftover chips or bread. Here it is:

Bird at The Edge

Into the labyrinthine dip and curl
of our coffee-shop conversation –
your philandering husband, my aching feet,
the high price of housing, the low line of televangelism –

comes a sparrow
that hops at the edge of our despair
until it charms an opening, a parting of the waters,
then taking its fill of pear-and-ginger cake crumbs,

flies away
and returns with the gift of a single feather
as though to remind us that sometimes
what goes around comes around by the very next post

and that even the marketing crassness
of, “Buy Jesus, get Moses free!”
can shed a little lightness of being
on this otherwise deluded and doltish Sunday.

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