I look up into the
tangled tendrils of the willow
branches falling around me,
their softness and sway on me
the way hair falls around a face,
on shoulders,
and down a bare back.

A breeze tousles the strands
and pearls of water
from last night’s storm
drop to my face,
down my chest,
down my stomach and arms,
to my feet in the earth.

And then she alights on a pencil thin limb
above me,
perched with delicacy
and boldness.
For the moment this chipping sparrow
has made the willow
her belonging place.
She glances at me as she
ruffles out grey chest feathers
and rust red wings,
shakes off water droplets,
and flies on to –
well, I don’t know where.

Another tree?
Perhaps a garden for her breakfast
of seeds and worms?
The field to the east?
The brush line where she nests?

What is her plan today?
How does she go about plotting
her course of lightness and song?
How does she care for the things
she loves best?

And who cares for her?

She carries nothing but
a twig and a dried shred of prairie grass.
How does she live this way?
So light
in grace
on the wind,
with patience and melody?

But maybe it is not like this at all.
Maybe she is very afraid.
Maybe she rises before the light
again and again,
scrambling up into darkness
from the reach of quiet predators.
Maybe that is her only plan.
Maybe she fears for her babies,
and that is her only song.

Maybe there are many days
she cannot find her way home.

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