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I know it’s a sparrow but put on my glasses to see it anyway

I know it’s a sparrow but put on my glasses

to see it, anyway, stare at the redbud not knowing

the name but knowing I’ll look it up later

for this poem, this post-Romantic, post-Freudian

poem emerging now from my hopefully

creative and possibly dangerous unconscious

which is the source of my highly-individualized

creative power. What about that Romantic poet

who said that poets should know the names

of plants and birds? I learned French,

sort of, by memorizing Jaques Prévert poems,

though never any of the left- wing populist plays

he made with Groupe Octobre. I buried

my parrot last week and couldn’t remember our

standard, goodnight routine, a seasonal list

poem of recently-sighted birds. The sad context

made me forget, though of course

I think about death every night, but I can’t

function if I think about it too closely when I sing

my parrot or babies to sleep. If I ever speak

at a memorial I will not speak from memory.

But now I remember the poem.

It begins with dabbling ducks and diving ducks,

then migrating and non-migrating shore birds,

then migrating songbirds, then familiar backyard

birds. The finches we’ve seen at the feeder this year

are purple finches, not house finches. No one has ever

described me as pursuing a problem with unbelievable

obstinacy, but “relentless” is one of my favorite

adjectives. Relentless love. Relentless interest.

Whatever. Was it Coleridge who said that

poets should know the names of plants and birds?

Or just flowers and songbirds, specifically?

I think Coleridge wrote about the imagination,

or had feelings about it. Certainly Coleridge had feelings.

I’ve taken my glasses off and I’m tired. The bird

I’m hearing is a sparrow, several. Now a crow. Now

a mockingbird. Now a sparrow, again.

2 thoughts on “I know it’s a sparrow but put on my glasses to see it anyway

  1. Befitting the best Lester! Relentlessly r-oh!-mantic!

  2. Coleridge had feelings, certainly. This reminds me of a long argument I ‘ve had with myself. Am still having. Love it.

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