Little Birds – Lauren Scharhag

We had us this mean little apartment by the river:
sirens every weekend, domestic squabbles,
SWAT teams busting meth labs and standoffs with desperate gunmen.

The buildings in town marked the high water lines from ’93.
Yet there was that one elderly neighbor
who grew marigolds out of an old tire and left tins
of homemade peanut brittle on our stoop at Christmas.

Over our door, where the roof peaked,
there was a gap between the original structure
and the sagging, no-color siding
where little birds could get in and out.

That spring,
brown and gray sparrows built their nest
in the old insulation. At daybreak,
the chicks would start to twitter and wake us.

We called the landlord. He came
with a ladder and boards and shut up the hole.

It took less than a day for the cries to fade,
even as the parent birds added their desperate calls
to their offspring’s.

The next morning, I awoke before sunrise and wondered
when exactly it was we decided
that we could do without birdsong.

Lauren ScharhagLauren Scharhag is a writer of fiction and poetry. She is the recipient of the Gerard Manley Hopkins Award for poetry and a fellowship from Rockhurst University for fiction. When not writing, she can be found hanging out in prisons or embarking on art pilgrimages. A recent transplant to the Florida Panhandle, she lives with her husband and three cats.