Burdock

— Diane Moomey

The gray farmhouse, it was — the one with six
gables. We’d complained. Only six?

How could they stop so close to seven?

You must remember:
weekly, cows burst through
their feeble fence to visit our yard —
the succulent green of it! the clover and lilacs
and roses of it!
Two maples lived in that lawn — no, maples:
the elms were at the white farmhouse.

We had fireflies,
and burdock across the road.
One winter I sank mittened hands
into a mass of those brown hooks, on purpose.
Our Ma was angry.
Don’t you remember? That house.

That day, it was the burdock,
purple blossoms done,
that fluttered brown in an afternoon of no wind,
flapped and fluttered.
We ran to look: a sparrow caught fast,
wings aflap, going nowhere.

Surely it will die.

You snapped the stalk.
I ran for tiny scissors. We met
on the porch.

You held, I snipped and plucked
close as I dared.
The sparrow surrendered to its fate,
did not struggle though its breast
was laid almost bare. 

The last hook: you turned the bird
belly side down. It dropped
a large blue poop in your hand:
in gratitude, I believed.

We watched it fly behind the barn,
just another sparrow.

Surely you remember.

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