The lot behind Pattie’s is barren in March. Morning inches over the ridge. The creek waters seep like gelatin. Stubborn beech leaves rustle like looseleaf.
I sink to the ankle. The sand is cold, but it isn’t the creek’s. I save one foot then the other.
The swamp sparrow plucks twigs from the shore. She eyes me and tousles her feathers.
Last year, the bird made nests of Pattie’s cigarette butts. Chrissy laughed. Netty cried. Michael saddled his high horse. I turned twenty-three. The candles went unlit as they all went at it on the patio over the creek.
Today I brought the sparrow a poem. It sat on my printer for weeks. I never got around to reading it. But maybe she can not read it too and use a poem in lieu of Marlboros this year. Maybe then my twenty-fourth birthday won’t end in a fit.