Partita for Sparrows

By Brenda Hillman b. 1951 Brenda Hillman
We bury the sparrows of Europe
with found instruments,
their breasts light as an ounce of tea
where we had seen them off the path,
their twin speeds of shyness & notched wings
near the pawnbroker’s house by the canal,
in average neighborhoods of the resisters,
or in markets of princely delphinium & flax,
flying from awnings at unmarked rates
to fetch crumbs from our table half-spinning
back to clefs of griilwork on external stairs
we would descend much later;
 
in rainy neighborhoods of the resisters
where streets were taken one by one,
where consciousness is a stair or path,
we mark their domains with notched sticks
of hickory or chestnut or ash
because our cities of princely pallor
should not have unmarked graves.
Lyric work, flight of arch, death bridge
to which patterned being is parallel:
they came as if from the margins
of a painting, their average hearts half-spinning
our little hourglass up on the screen.

Brenda Hillman, “Partita for Sparrows” from Practical Waters. Copyright © 2009 by Brenda Hillman. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Practical Water (Wesleyan University Press, 2009)

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Poet Brenda Hillman b. 1951

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Nature, Animals, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Brenda  Hillman

Biography

One of contemporary poetry’s most eclectic and formally innovative writers, Brenda Hillman is known for poems that draw on elements of found texts and document, personal meditation, observation, and literary theory. Often described as “sensuous” and “luminescent,” Hillman’s poetry investigates and pushes at the possibilities of form and voice, while remaining grounded in topics such as geology, the environment, politics, family, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Animals, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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