Day of the Sparrow

My Birthday

My Birthday

I woke from a dream that I was eating my finger. Some guy had explained to me that I must eat my left middle finger—perhaps to prevent gangrene? So I bit into it, tore off a piece and swallowed it. Then a little more. Then some more. I was down to my middle knuckle, when I awoke. I felt for my left hand—my finger was still there! How remarkable!

I walked into the kitchen. Through the window, I could see the field behind my house: purple asters, yellowing birches, the hunched weeping willow. It was like an exquisite painting, made just for me—my birthday painting!

Outside the house were industrial noises. Across the street, a huge backhoe was scooping out the Esopus River. I asked my wife about it. She said, “They’re ‘de-watering’ the channel that runs along the bank, so they can reinforce the bank.” I put on my shoes and walked across the street to watch the machine dredging. It moved like a dinosaur in a 1950s movie. A leaf fell.

My wife and I drove to Woodstock, to buy food at Sunflower. Afterward, we went to Family, a place with free books and clothing—I was “shopping” for my birthday. In a book called Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry, I read:

The Coming of Wisdom with Time

Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth.

I received 178 birthday greetings on Facebook.

Sparrow lives in a double-wide trailer in Phoenicia, N.Y., with his wife, Violet Snow. He often writes for Ground Report. Sparrow has run for President of the United States five times. More by Sparrow