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Mitchell Nobis

To Sparrows

I go for a run with the

black dog, and a bird

flies overhead, across

the sidewalk one tree to

another. A block farther

on, another bird. Later, a 

third flies across the street

to a small crowd of

trees by the power

station. But always one

bird. When I was a kid, 

the sparrows flocked

so thick on the

farm that they’d 

darken the sun for

a blink of an eye.

My brother & I had

the green light to 

thin them out, in hopes 

of preventing them passing

disease to the herd.

We protected our cows 

with bb & pellet guns. 

I’d cock a copper

ball into the gun,

aim, and pull the trigger.

My older brother would

pump ten times to fill

an air bladder to 

bursting, the pressure

rocketing a cylindrical

pellet through the

soft breast of

the bird, its wing

knocked cockeyed.

I don’t think I ever 

killed one, but not out

of honor—my Red Ryder

too weak to do more

than lob a bb ultimately

into the cow shit.

I wanted to help the

cows, to kill the 

diseases. We thought

we were noble. We

thought we were helping. 

We were bearing witness 

to metal flying through

unknown, complexity. 

A barn cat rending 

the bird apart as it 

licks blood & milk.

            At least we

            were here.

            At least we

            saw it while it

            was here.

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Mitchell Nobis is a writer and K-12 teacher in Metro Detroit. His poetry has appeared in Whale Road Review, The Night Heron Barks, HAD, and others. He facilitates Teachers as Poets for the National Writing Project and hosts the Wednesday Night Sessions reading series. Find him at @MitchNobis and or falling apart on a basketball court.

Bear Review


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