Must Not Be a Working Bird

by Jerry Ratch


I said, “That bird is hungry.”

The sparrow was eying both of us

At our separate outside café tables

As it hopped around looking for crumbs.


Then it would look up at us

Expectantly. When she found some blessed

Small scrap of muffin, she would fly up

With it to her streetlight nest.


“Bird's hungry,” I repeated

When the man eyed me, watching him

Like some kind of bird myself.

The man kept reading his paper, grim,


Grumpy, shaking his head. 

“Must not be a working bird,” he said.

Quite possibly, on the inside,

The human was already dead.