By: Elton Glaser
Featured art: Sparrows and wisteria by Utagawa Hiroshige
How many sparrows are enough? I can’t tell
If there are more this afternoon than yesterday.
And if there’s one missing, or two, or eight,
What does it matter? All I know is
They are not so many since I took the feeders down
After your death. They came for the seeds
Your kind hands set out. I give them nothing.
Now, if they come, they come only
For reasons of their own, these quick birds
Dowdy in their grays and browns, and leave behind
That whistle and trill, or the echo of it,
Singing not for me, but for the moment’s pleasure
Of lifting their wings in warm air, alive
To the light. And in their easy glide and sweep,
Oblivious of anything but song, I find myself
A listener outside the choir, and still
Inside those memories of the missing kindness
That drew them here, however many, however few.
Elton Glaser has published eight full-length collections of poetry, most recently two books in 2013: Translations from the Flesh (Pittsburgh) and The Law of Falling Bodies (Arkansas).