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"I always report the truth with precision and accuracy. I loved the sparrow but I'm back north now and a titmouse is building a nest (I think) in the Redbud tree right over my head, and the poem I'm now writing is called 'Three Sharp Sounds.'"
Gerald Stern

The Sparrow

Gerald Stern, 1925

Here’s a common sparrow, a bit of a schnorrer
come to celebrate my 88th at
Whole Foods at 10th and Alton in
Miami Beach, a block away from where
my mother lived for 27 years,
the wrong end of Miami Beach then
but now the center; though she can hardly stay
for the party she is so busy with the cheese
which disentangled from the bread and one would
kiss her but she is partial to the bread
and has to fly away so she can eat
in secrecy which is a good enough gift
compared to the knowledge that I was common too
and if I eat from china I would just as soon
eat from paper—or plastic—the difference between
the sparrow and me is I need a solid plate
of some sort—even a leaf—a noble spine
and green in all directions and the smell of the
mother tree everywhere but I am slow now.

Copyright © 2013 by Gerald Stern. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 29, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Gerald Stern. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 29, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Gerald Stern

Gerald Stern

Gerald Stern was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1925. His recent books

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poem
Every city in America is approached
through a work of art, usually a bridge
but sometimes a road that curves underneath 
or drops down from the sky. Pittsburgh has a tunnel—

you don't know it—that takes you through the rivers
and under the burning hills. I went there to cry
in the woods or carry my heavy
poem
Since there was no mother for the peach tree we did it 
all alone, which made the two of us closer
though closeness brought its loneliness, and it would
have been better I think sometimes to be sterile
from the start just to avoid the pain 
which in my life this far has lasted seventy
years for I am in love with