Prayer to Sparrow in Two Seasons

Little tongue click, beggar at the redwood table,
how is it your fall makes so deep an impression
in the book black as loam, and as fragrant?
Song as warning becomes you, the sudden tilt
of your beak sounds like the first star coming on
one sweet May sky. There is a map through the trees
engraved on your skull—bone I could wear as a ring—
and your feet are black glass the serpent envies.
Once I held (Biology 101) your heart in my palm,
a tiny red clock, and asked for enlargement, life
bigger than life. This winter I pray only your,
intercession, a handful of seeds flung over snow.
And watch as you peck the white crust, one eye
on my window, one for each seed, and nothing but God’s
own poverty keeping you warm, keeping you.
—Jeffrey Skinner