"I wrote a love song to a sparrow"

I didn’t tell the story I thought I’d tell.

No stories about hardship, no stories about resilience. Somehow, the Dear World storytelling process got to my inner core in less than twenty minutes.

I told a story about love, creativity, and sparrows.

When I was a child, I talked to sparrows. And trees. And squirrels. Mr. Shady Tree lived down the street from me. He had been trimmed to look like a child’s lollipop tree. Now and again I would stop by to visit him. I would offer him invisible TV Dinners and banana splits. He never spoke to me but I felt a sense of comfort talking to him. I talked to the birds in his branches, too. I remember the sparrows best — they were flighty sorts, hopping in small groups from branch to branch, then scattering when cars drove by.

I quickly gathered a reputation from my classmates for being “weird”, and this led to a lot of harassment on their part and a lot of shame on mine. I cared less and less about their “normal”. I isolated myself rather than face the shame.

When I hit adolescence, I discovered more beauty in my world — boys. I felt as if I could study every inch of their faces — their skin, translucent or spotty, their eyes, the truth behind their cryptic scribbles in their notebooks. I could never draw them, never even remember their faces. So I wrote poems. In junior high, I showed the poems to my best friend, and she raised the window sash and announced my crush to everyone outside during lunch. I would spend the time between classes being admonished by the other girls that So-and-So wouldn’t possibly like me back.

The two lived together in shame in my mind — birds and crushes.

One day in college, I wrote a love song about a sparrow. I confess, it wasn’t really about a sparrow — it was about a young man on a bus. He had long, honey-brown hair and round glasses and a faint dusting of freckles and a strong, curved nose. His build was delicate, bird-boned. The rain had drenched him as it had me, but he looked at home in a misty forest, and out-of-place on that grimy bus.

So I wrote the song. Looking back, I had a revelation about this song —  no, two: I had found a way to both talk about my strange reality where birds and trees could understand human speech and maybe even take one on a journey, and I had found a way to talk about crushes without revealing them. I also found acceptance for myself as the child who others found “weird”.

Oh, the song? Here it is:

CHORUS:
Pretty, pretty –
I would not take your feathers,
I would not steal your flight,
I only want to watch you
Spin stars into the night
I’d love to hear your stories,
I wonder where you’ve been,
I wonder where you’re going to
Pretty, pretty.
Who am I to seek you out –
A child who talks to birds.
I’d love to tell you something,
But I stumble on the words.
The poetry of birdsong,
The music of your voice
I wonder where you’re going to
CHORUS
And where am I to look for you?
I’ve squinted at the trees
To watch the flutter of your wings
Float past me on the breeze
The poetry of birdsong,
The music of your voice
I wonder where you’re going to
CHORUS
And who am I to seek you out –
A child who talks to birds.
I’d love to tell you something,

But I stumble on the words.

2 thoughts on “"I wrote a love song to a sparrow"

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s