The MS Society Sparrow

The MS Society sparrow has nested.
Squeezed between the white-on-blue
of a parking sign and tight-fit eaves.

More tunnel than nest, a single
chick demands from mother bird
more and more of the crumbs and
small donations she is offered at the cafe
in the immediate precinct of the self-help charity.

The chick is fit to fly. Well, almost.
Flutter-wings and yellow-rim mouth,
wide open for the thrust of food
when mum is around. A harassed working girl
more likely from an inner suburb
where slums once lay and hard-doers
were much more common.

When mama servant has gone, the chick
sits quiet in the aftermath of near disaster,
when his fluttering nearly threw him down.
Saved from a leaving-home by tangling
the nest around a leg, an anchor
to haul him in, restrain freedom
and avoid the need to learn to fly real fast.

Even in the affluence of Toorak, a girl
needs to keep her wits and strong suspicions,
and the mother bird seen me here, a stranger in her street,
watching, quiet, far too close for comfort.
Maybe it was a plume of blue-smoke
gave me away as it rose. Now she
won’t come home, not until I’m gone.

Perhaps she isn’t ready yet for visitors.
Could be the cleaning isn’t done.

The willingness of Master Chick to grab
the food he dropped with relish, without mother,
and the self satisfaction that he takes
from fast beak-scraping on the nest floor are a sign
that a clean-up might come soon.
Visitors may find a warmer welcome
when the young cock takes a step too far
and is gone to join the life down on
the streets. Won’t be long before he’ll get to play
among the fat cats of Toorak streets.

© Frank Prem, 2001

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