Commensal with humans for 10,000 years,
since the first cultivation of barley
and wheat, the house sparrow, that communal
eater of insects and seeds, is ubiquitous –
from Kolkata to Coventry, Haifa
to Hawaii – sometimes a pest, a pet
or on a plate; a symbol of lechery
or vulgarity – but in decline here
because of pesticides perhaps
or mobile phones, car parks, unleaded petrol.
Certainly, we miss the small flocks in the shrubs
and their rapid, ceaseless chatterings.
A lone bird appears occasionally,
silent mostly but for the odd, ‘chirrup, chirrup’.
So, as Hamlet says, ‘…we defy augury.
There’s a special providence in the fall
of a sparrow… if it be not now,
yet it will come – the readiness is all.’