For Marylen
There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.
– Hamlet

Second oldest of five in a family of seven.
Loved chickens, too.
A shop girl who hung red dresses
on limbs of an apple tree in the heart of winter.

She was an urchin who lived on her wits
Like the common brown sparrow,
Passer domesticus, humble,
but New Hampshire-Lithuanian-Catholic-girl-hardy.

Why did the little brown bird
disappear from the city of London?
I hear her asking.
(So far away from Vermont.)
How points to cause and effect,
She adds.

On the sidewalk, scouting the verge for litter,
she eavesdropped
on their communal chirrup,
understanding they could not
live without each, and every, other.

When did those parking lot birds
stop scolding the cars
intruding on their feast among the gravel?
Drive as if your children live here!
read her sign at the intersection.

Where did the brown sparrow go?
A bird that is born, breeds, lives & dies
within a mile, never migrating.

When asks time to stand still,
as today crosses the calendar’s square border
into tomorrow.

Joan White’s poetry has appeared online and in print with the American Journal of Poetry, NPR’s On Being blog, Cider Press Review, Berkshire Review among other publications. She lives in Vermont where she raises funds for a nonprofit agency that helps people make their way out of poverty. Most weekends, she can be found in the woods, seeking out rivers and waterfalls, mostly listening.