The Difference
Ann Lauinger

The Difference

Whether I heard or saw it first is moot:
The rustling arched toward a gap in the porch roof.
An inquiring beak, the curve’s continuation,
Gave a prod too brief to complete its investigation
Of a niche to build a nest. Retire, rest,
Repeat. One common sparrow’s furious quest,
Compulsion of the ordinary, fevered desire
Focused, simple, noble (I thought) as fire—
And my phrases rose like a flock of birds
Dispersed, driven to make a home of words.
That sparrow had the right stuff; I envied its sense
Of purpose. A common error: its incandescence
Shone with purpose, but sense? It was only me
Who tethered the two. The one with feathers flew free.

Ann Lauinger

has written two books of poetry: Persuasions of Fall (University of Utah Press, 2004), winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry, and Against Butterflies (Little Red Tree Publishing, 2013). Her poems and translations have appeared in journals such as The Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Spillway, and Transference and in anthologies including the Bedford Introduction to Literature and The Cumberland River Review: The First Five Years. Her work is forthcoming in Plant-Human Quarterly, Valley Voices, and the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe.