Today's poem is by Campbell McGrath

Sparrows: For Gerald Stern

Mexican sparrows picking at seeds
is it, seeds of some black-thorned grass?
Or do they eat the dust itself,
white grit blown off the desert to scrub the cobbles
copper-blue underfoot? Cactus hedges,
some yellow vine I don't know the word for
in this town, this tongue, stone walls
overgrown with purple bougainvillaea
like a college of prelates
wearing strange, multi-pointed hats,
or tiny box kites above some miniscule town
where even smaller kids play
hooky and baseball in abandoned fields
and crash their kites in scrubby trees
and do not feel regret. Gratitude
for that, for not storing a world of loss
in their small hearts.
Gratitude for the past which rolls like smoke
from the old river-front mills and gratitude
that it is the past, that it is gone
and I am warm in the shade of this grape arbor,
snapped from my revery like an aloe stem.
For stones and petals, gratitude, for tongues,
for thorny grass beloved of goats,
for industrial rivers,
for baseballs, for bunches of grapes,
for the balm of the aloe,
for the vigilant sparrows and the dust
they live on.

Copyright © 2009 Campbell McGrath All rights reserved
from Northwest Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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