The Sparrow Tree

The weeping cherry is a sparrow tree

bristled with birds and other small things

that shelter within the unkempt tangle

of the crown, spilling in knots like Medusa’s

locks would if she slept poorly and couldn’t

get a brush through the nest of snakes that

bare their teeth as I do with you when

you’re too long gone and this refuge recoils,

licking empty air with a thousand tongues.

Look away quick. Stone comes to those

who stare at the writhing that warns

without hissing. This one sings.


©Dana Hughes 1.14.19

One thought on “The Sparrow Tree

  1. Oh, this is nice. I love the sudden shift first from a Mary Oliver-esque tree full of birds to Medusa to the “recoil” of loneliness. This poem does not go where I thought it was going. Like a snake in the grass, it strikes unexpectedly. Love that “bristled” can mean both overfull and threatening, and that it’s what a brush is. Love the image of Medusa struggling to brush her head full of snakes to deal with her bed-head. And yet, in the last line, it all comes back to the birds, singing. Not quite so threatening, but not really benign, either. Very, very nice.

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