What could the Bible mean
when it says no sparrow falls
without God’s notice?
They do fall.
“The Bible” — that’s too impersonal.
It was some writer of the New Testament,
some Hebrew poet turned Christian
who chose sparrow, a metaphor
for the least things, the small
and innumerable mouths
at the breast of the world.
Maybe our poet had a daughter who carried to him
in her cupped hands a baby sparrow.
Maybe they tried to keep it alive
on sugar water and cat food,
and when they failed, he wept,
not knowing how to teach a child
that life is worth the trouble, and the grief.
This morning, at our house,
the sparrow hopped in his shoe box, chirping,
and my daughter leaned over him,
her hair the same brown as his feathers.
“He thinks I’m his mom,” she told me.
I am her mom. When the baby sparrow dies,
I’m the one she brings him to,
the life now seeped from him,
his body no more than a clod of dirt.
Black beads of his eyes dulled.
Wings stilled. Feet stiff as twigs.
We bury him in the backyard
beside the old cat and a mole we found last fall.
God only knows
why commending his body to the earth
should comfort us,
but it does.