Song Sparrow

When I was a kid my doctor dad always carried a Song Sparrow in his pocket. And it would sing out beautifully whenever someone was in need of help.
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It would go, and then my dad would hafta rush off to help them no matter what.
We could be anywhere when the bird started singing. Like the movies. He’d always hafta sit in the aisle seat so he wouldn’t walk in front of anyone when he hadta leave. And he almost always would. Even if the movie was really great and he was dying to know how it ended. Even if the whole family was with him. Even if it was just me with him.
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Such a lovely way to get interrupted. It made me wanna have my own Song Sparrow with brown and gray striped crown, cute little stout bill, brown streaks converging in central breast spot, and voice that indirectly heals all who command it.
So when I was old enough I went down to the creek, plucked one outta the bushes by the streamside, and stuffed it in my jean pocket. It stuck its little head out and, even tho I wasn’t a doctor, forced me to save people whether it was convenient or not.
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“Yes! How can I help you?” I’d ask.
And then give them my…
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and 2/3 of every movie
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“What d’you want?!” I started to grumble and snap at it after awhile…
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and ignore it…
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and feel guilty about it…
I needed to call up Dad for some advice.
“What do you do when you’re fed up with the Song Sparrow song even tho it’s supposta be such sweet melodic music?”
“Oh,” he told me, “I got rid of mine years ago.”
“Really? But what happens if someone needs your help?”
“I listen to a different Sparrow now. It sings to me when I need to help myself.”
“Help yourself?”
“It took a long time, but eventually I learned you can’t take care of someone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.”
“Hmm… Which Sparrow is that? I’ve got my guidebook right here.”
Just then my Song Sparrow went off again, the song so familiar, so beautiful, so impossible to ignore.
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“Hold on, Dad,” I said, “Something just came up. I’ll hafta call you back later.”
“Alright, well, real quickly I can give you the name of the...”
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“No time!” I told him, “Gotta go!”
And then I went to take care of something which seemed to be very very important.
- December 2016, Akron, Ohio
Listen to “Song Sparrow” here!

Song Sparrow, Bobolink Trail, Boulder CO, May 2018
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