The first thing I heard early that morning
was a rapid flapping sound,
soft but insistent, wings against glass
as it turned out when I got downstairs
and saw the small bird
rioting in the frame of a high window,
trying to hurl itself through the mystery
of glass and pass into the spacious light.
Then the noise in the throat of the cat
on the rug in a warm slot of sunlight
told me how the bird had gotten inside,
carried in the night
through the flap of a secret basement door,
and later released from the soft grip of its mouth.
Up on a chair, I trapped its pulsations
in a shirt and got it to the door,
so weightless it seemed
to have vanished into the nest of cloth.
But outside, when I uncupped my hands,
it bolted into its element,
dipping over the dormant garden
in a spasm of wingbeats
then disappearing over a row of tall hemlocks.
For the rest of the day,
all I could feel was its wild thrumming
against my palms, and all I could think about
were the hours it must have spent
pent in the silent shadows of that room
hidden in the spiky branches
of our decorated tree, breathing there
among the metallic angels, ceramic apples, stars of yarn,
its eyes open, like mine as I lay in bed that night
picturing this rare, lucky sparrow
tucked into a holly bush now,
a light snow tumbling through the windless dark.