The Critters

For Nice Critters

Two Pigeons Kissing (A Poem) And the Ragged Sparrow (A Tale)

Two Pigeons Kissing (A Poem) And the Ragged Sparrow (A Tale)

English Version

Two Pigeons Kissing

Two pigeons in the morning-

November sun

sitting on a tree-branch,

kissing outside my window…

(as if no one’s around);

looking here and there!

The blue-headed one, picking

at its wings….

(I’m thinking, staring-:

can life be so simple?)

No: 2516 (11-15-2008), written in:

El Tambo, Huancayo, Peru (a tribute to Juan Parra del Riego)

Spanish Version

Dos Pichones Besándose

¡Dos pichones en la mañana-

en el sol de noviembre

sentados en una rama del árbol,

están besándose afuera de mi ventana…

(como si nadie estuviera alrededor);

mirando aquí y allá!

El de la cabeza azul, picoteándose

sus alas…

(Mirando fijamente, estoy pensando-:

¿Puede la vida ser tan simple?)

Nro. 2516 (15-Noviembre-2008), escrito en:

El Tambo, Huancayo, Perú (un homenaje a Juan Parra del Riego)

Only English Version

-The Ragged Sparrow

((Winters in Minnesota) (a story of compassion))

In winter in Minnesota the days are short, the season long, and everything turns to a light and sometimes dark gray; snow hides everything, like a giant white umbrella. The Countryside, even the city produces profound feelings of disenchantment, haunted by the ragged looking sparrows (and some squirrels); occasionally, the sun flutters through the desolate sky and its clouds, and inside the winds resides gloom, you squint your eyes after a while in the endless white on white-snow.

If you have braved the season and youth is on your side, it will thereafter be kind to you, in that, something majestic will come out of it all; on the other hand if you are old, the thoughts of another oncoming winter can be hand clinching, it not leg trembling and mouth stuttering, but you know you have accomplished something great, and with harsh gestures, a fist at mother nature, you show it. Yet by and by you know it will reappear, and through those three following new seasons, imagery of the old produces stress.

Even Mother Nature knows for the old man, a new life will demand a new triumph, once winter starts, to make it to April, a spark will do, a muster seed perhaps, a little miracle, to refresh the spirit: something, anything.

The old man, Mr. Beck, watches the sparrows, and occasionally the squirrels (if indeed he can fined a white squirrel, it will be to his fancy, and he will have to look closer to believe it is not just his imagination), he watches also, dogs and cats, but mostly he is intrigued with the ragged sparrows. Thus, he gazes at them from his bedroom window, in bed often, the ragged haunting looking gray bodied sparrows, so little and dainty, but enduring, gazes at them as they go to and fro.

To him, Mr. Beck, they are the champions of non-defeat. He watches each detail of the birds, and is really their only noticeable audience, all other neighbors, especially the older ones are somewhere huddled around their furnaces in their homes, impressionless, unaware of the sparrows untiringly almost magical endurance of the frigidly cold and long-term winter at hand.

But there is one neighbor, to the left of him (or west), when possible watches him open-mouth, watching the sparrows; wondering at Mr. Beck’s sanity, because of his so called regularity in this sport like atmosphere, his devotion throughout the winter, his key importance he puts on the ragged looking sparrows, it is Mrs. Stanly (widow), she’s sixty-three years old (it is 1960, Mr. beck, he is seventy-eight.)

A Little Sparrow

The old man had handed in his railroad badge, took off his watch they gave him for over twenty years of service, put it into the top drawer-near his bed, forgot it was there, he had put it there, and left it there going on thirteen-years now, since his retirement. He, like his neighbor, Mrs. Stanley, is a widower, on pension, collecting money due him, pay his utilities on time, and keeps mostly to himself, never missed a day of work, unless he was really sick. He was willing! Intelligent! Quiet and honest! And most of all, grateful he had reached the ripe old age of seventy-eight.

A little sparrow-somewhat ugly, ragged looking that is, inexpressibly, was laying in the snow by a large oak tree, outside his bedroom window (his house being on an embankment with the tree, Cayuga Street below the embankment).

Looking at it, ‘Lovely and sad,’ he thought, but to no end it looked in misery, if not potentially dead. Then he looked closer-it had evidently fallen from the tree onto the soft cold white snow-he saw a spark of life in it, there was a general death twist to its wing, a movement, more by automatic impulse, the nerves reacting like an electric light blinking, ready to go out.

The old man stared at it, it was numbing, and the morning was getting onto forenoon. There was a passionate quality about his peering, and every time the old man saw the wing move, he smiled, kind of a stress reaction, a smile you do, not because you are happy, but because you need to endure the moment without panic.

“Heaven help it,” he murmured, talking to himself, then adding, “Vitality is born early in such creatures and also taken away quickly under such circumstances, such a little body, how can it endure the elements, -I bet it has not more than a few sparks left…!”

All he murmured would have been utterly evident to any onlooker, thus the old man eagerly-with his thin frame and glaring eyes-pulled off his white linens, and tossed to the side his two thick blankets, and with a startling and revenant grimace, kept his eye on the sparrow as he put on his robe, and slippers, “Well, it’s certainly a nice day,” he muttered (the suns ultraviolet rays were piercing through the clouds, yet it was below zero).

His eyes now in transit, falling downward for a moment, in a posture of emotional thought, then his smile again became radiant, as if he had said a prayer, and his face showed no artificial pretence, he had a mission, his heart pumped new blood through its veins, and his face got rosy, the dim paleness of winter’s dread left.

He looked dearly and closely at the ragged sparrow, its wings flapped once more, he said, tying his robe, with a rope of sorts, “I’m not sure what were suppose to do now (talking to the sparrow through the window, across the porch, all the way to the big tree, knowing if he did nothing, the little ragged sparrow would die, that was for certain, if indeed it was not dead yet, it seemed to him the bird was aware of his activity, his willingness to do something to help it).

From the Porch

Again he noticed a single movement from a sole wing, on the little ragged sparrow, an indication for him, there was still time (a shot, spurt of energy still left in it), but perhaps little hope.

Now he went out to his cold screened-in porch, and could see the little bird closer, the window had not blocked the sparrow from his sight, the porch being to its side, yet it was a closer distance by several feet to the tree, now, he could and was peering right over the sparrow, perhaps three feet.

“Oh, that’s all right,” he told the sparrow-if indeed the sparrow could read lips, it would have gotten a little more hope I’m sure-“Just stay perfectly still, I’ll fix everything up,” he added to his monologue.

The sparrow now moved its wing one more time, and then it dropped it, as if it was too heavy to hold, for even that millisecond it had before. At that point the old man knew it was curtains, the show was over, he was to slow, too late, too old, for that was the death signal, and he knew death had no favorites, and it did not wait, and that it had a continuing digesting stomach, it was always hungry, and wanted to be feed.

Suddenly, involuntary, almost in a state of disassociation, he opened the screen-door, made a short abrupt leap into the cold, cold snow, quickly and gently he grabbed the sparrow and away he went back into the house, with a growing preposterous smile- (as if he had eaten a chocolate covered cherry).

He took the sparrow and laid it down in front of a large space heater in the living room inside of one of his soft slippers, so the heat would not scorch it, and just starred at the ragged bird, as he sat in a nearby sofa chair, giving it an ominous silent look, said, “There isn’t anybody here except me,” he was talking to the sparrow, his hands in the prayer mode…

The Wing

He looked at the sparrow one last time, as if he was worn out himself, and ready to fall to sleep from the stress, and enduring ordeal-a mental strain, anxiety, then he thought he saw a wing move, said to himself out loud, “It must be a winter dream, they vary…,” then looked closer. He took off his glasses, he rubbed his eyes, put them back on, leaned over to touch the sparrow, its body no loner stiff, “A precarious adventure we are having little one,” he said, “time to wake up!” A tear came from his right eye, as the bird wobbled about inside the slipper, its feet stretched out, and its wings helped it get back onto them somewhat steadily, and it fell over the slipper, onto the floor. Now the wings were both operational, and it stumbled over to the old man, and with a last spurt of energy, it lay down on his bare foot, to rest, and it and the old man, took a nap, after their triumph.

Note: written 11-18-2008, after lunch at the café, La Mia Mamma, Huancayo, Peru. Inspired by actual events, although in a different realm, during the author’s twenties … (which was with a fish brought back to life after frozen from the Minnesota cold, a small fish for an aquarium brought home frozen, after being left in a car.)