To listen to an audio of me reading this poem, just click on the link below. Give it a few seconds, and it will start.
I was four when you told me the story
that if someone wanted to capture a bird
they must sprinkle its tail with salt.
We went outside, salt shaker in hand,
not sure what we really planned to do.
In the end, it was a tiny sparrow foraging
for fallen seeds or tiny insects on the other
side of the chain link fence at the back
of the yard. You told me to go ahead and
sprinkle it. My hand would not fit through
the opening link square with the shaker.
Blindly I tossed a spray of salt that landed
more on you and me than any place else.
The little bird was spared, and he continued
rummaging around in the grasses, indifferent
to the plans made by two small girls who
had no real idea what it was to take away
the gift of flight. No salted feathers for him.
All I remember now is that I felt something
happen inside when the little bird looked
at me and, in the way of all birds, off it flew.