FNS: Let Me Be a Sparrow by Joanne Esser

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Every Friday night we feature a short story, essay, personal narrative,
poem, spoken word, or short film for your enjoyment.

Helen Presents: a poem from Joanne Esser


I’d like to be something a little less human,
Not weighted with so many serious thoughts
Here alone in a room without any windows.

To be something plain, not too complicated,
Maybe one of these small brown birds
That gather in the yard every afternoon

Clustered in the cedars, on rosebush branches,
They balance in breeze on high thin wires,
Never one, or two, but many at once,

Ten or twelve or twenty or more
Flutter down like a shower onto the grass.
They peck and peck at what looks like nothing,

Frenetic hearts, speckled wings,
Only as big as my open hand –
I long to learn their trick of lightness.

They chatter and chirp in the dimming dusk
And watch another summer unfold,
As the raspberries ripen, the lilies open.

Nonstop, they comment with all of their passion,
Whistle together to bring down the sun,
Making bird-music of all they see.

What an honor it would be one day
To be in such good company,
Whose song outshines their brevity.


Joanne Esser writes poetry and nonfiction in Minneapolis, Minnesota and has been a teacher of young children for over thirty years. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University and published a chapbook of poems, I Have Always Wanted Lightning, with Finishing Line Press in 2012. Her work has been published in Water~Stone Review, Under the Sun, Slant and The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, among other places.

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