Peter Neil Carroll
Outside the chilly panes
only sparrows fly, feathers
brown as city snow. Grandma
liked to leave broken bagels
on the fire escape, but me
she gave chocolate cherries, teasing
if I didn’t come to her funeral,
she’d haunt me as a ghost.
She frightened me and I did go.
She returns anyway, taunting
my bookish ways. I know
nothing about sparrows—
if they prefer rye to cornbread,
make their nests in Florida
or hatch at the Bronx zoo.
In spring, the sparrows return, wait
at the window for Grandma’s hand.
I offer a muffin; the birds show
no hunger. I whistle; they fly away.
I’m watching a language become extinct.