Love and the Sparrow

Who am I to speak of Love?
Every word I have ever said
Was untrue;
Whatever I thought,
Was wrong.
Each time I make a shape for it,
The shape is wrong;
Always too small, or too wide.
Or too complete.
Love resists the corale of reasoning,
Infinitely Wild,
Endlessly Free.

Everything I have ever held of it
Was a handful of dust.
To say, “I love you…”
Is to slay integrity,
Though I will always say it.

But, look;
I will step from the Earth to a star;
I will reach my hand
Down into the rich soil
And pull up a precious root;
I will fold you in my impossible wings.
I will bleed for you
So that my blood can nourish you;
I will stand guard,
Though the enemy flattens me
Again and again.
I will endeavour to become this thing
About which I can no longer speak.
My words have run too thick with
Beautiful lies.
Love was not there;
Quicksilver; dazzling reflections;
The cunning refraction of Heaven…
But not love.
It was there, but quietly.
Making a nest in your heart.

Love is not a bridge made of good intentions;
Love is the sparrow,
The dull bird
That goes unnoticed, here and there;
It is the Wren, the Robin, the brown Finch;
While I was speaking about love,
Love was gathering sticks and straw,
Nesting in the silence,
The humble rest between words of splendour.

Who am I to speak of Love?
I can make Eagles,
Cranes and Flamingos;
I can show you the Phoenix,
The Garuda,
Magnificent birds of fire and glory;
Do not listen to the words,
But see if a tiny bird
Is growing closer to you.
If it nests in your heart,
Thank God, or the Goddess,
Not me.
I was not there:
I was climbing mountains
And splitting the world,
Keeping grandeur occupied
So that love might have a chance to know you.


7 thoughts on “Love and the Sparrow

  1. Interesting. For me, Love was a deceiver spilling hopeful words, selling me something I could not have and will never have. Now I have turned my back on him, sworn vengeance on him. Let him come and I will break his bow and feed him his arrows until he is starved of Love. Even these threats to him have not kept him from tempting me now and then.

    Even when I sealed off my heart and rebuilt it of steel-stone and words of isolation – telling myself stories in whispers unless he should hear me.

    You… oh you make Eagles, but you make magic also in every word. Long may your words live in you.

  2. Phew, looks like my amnesia was pretty intense last year because I cannot believe I don’t *at all* remember hearing this beautiful poem. The sparrow made her nest and used the dried out ligaments from the darkroom demon, who got incinerated in the love’s purifying fire. We are all of us running around making sandcastles in the sandpit of LOVES nursery, while ‘the teacher’ cleans up the mess til we get tired of playing and become LOVES diligent students.

    1. If I remember right, this one was from a couple of years ago – I was in a stream with them and was reading them to you every day. Beautiful comment, Louisa – thank you! Let us all become Love’s diligent students!

  3. Hello! I believe I found your poems through Terri Windling a year or so ago, but this one really touched me and my partner of 12 years. We are each birds, he a sparrow, me a magpie and we believe our birds live in each other’s hearts, nesting and making mischief. In fact we love this so much, we plan to read it at our wedding. I hope this is ok with you? And thank you for writing about an aspect of love that is not often give thought.

    1. Hi Christina – thanks for your words, and of course, I’d be delighted to think of you using ‘Love and the Sparrow’ at your wedding! Is it soon? Have an excellent Yuletide, from very wet Dartmoor. Tom

    2. Thank you! It’s March 23rd in NYC, so coming up soon! We’re actually honeymooning in England, with a possible stop in Dartmoor to see the magical land that so many artists have shared with the world. A very happy Yule to you as well. Christina

  4. PS:I figured it out! I found you through Rima’s wondrous collection of links at The Hermitage. I have found so much inspiration from your passionate and creative lives. Thank you for being and sharing.

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