Partita for Sparrows

We bury the sparrows of Europe
with found instruments,
their breasts light as an ounce of tea
where we had seen them off the path,
their twin speeds of shyness and notched wings
near the pawnbroker's house by the canal,
in average neighborhoods of the resisters,
or in markets of princely delphinium and flax,
flying from awnings at unmarked rates
to fetch crumbs from our table half-spinning
back to clefs of grillwork on external stairs
we would descend much later;

in rainy neighborhoods of the resisters
where streets were taken one by one,
where consciousness is a stair or path,
we mark their domains with notched sticks
of hickory or chestnut or ash
because our cities of princely pallor
should not have unmarked graves.
Lyric work, flight of arch, death bridge
to which patterned being is parallel:
they came as if from the margins
of a painting, their average hearts half-spinning
our little hourglass up on the screen.

Brenda Hillman