What if every time we saw the word sorrow
we switched it to sparrow?
——-For my life is spent with sparrows…
——-With drunkenness and sparrows…
Or if it went the other way, the song would be,
——-His eye is on the sorrow….
My eye’s on the neighbor’s eaves,
and the copper-roofed house we put up in our yard,
its many rooms, multiple nests, generations—
as if we brought this clamor on ourselves,
this hurdy-gurdy, rabble, host and quarrel
————mixed with the morning radio
broadcasting a bombed hospital, bodies
under fallen roof tiles, shards of over-voice and wailing,
while outside birds flare up, knock each other off the feeder,
sparrows the color of rubble, of dust and mud,
burnt cars, blown-out windows, of wreckage
they could roost in, the earth a house of sparrows
on Sparrow Street, hunger house, and woe
to the poor who are spared nothing,
who gather at borders to beg and forage, are sold
——–two for a penny, five for two cents….
And yet doesn’t it say the Lord God
attends—bends down to count
each one shot, starved, buried in rubble?—
——–a man of sparrows and acquainted with grief.
Who says, when I bow my head,
——–Sparrows are better than laughter,
and to the rabble, the wailing, the how, the when,
——–Your sparrows will turn to joy—
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.