“Decoding Sparrows” by Mariano Zaro published in Poeming Pigeons: Poems about Birds, released April, 2015 by The Poetry Box.
My father and I on the balcony
watch dozens of sparrows walking
on the roofs across from us.
A sparrow doesn’t really know how to make a nest, he says.
They are messy. Now, a stork, that’s different.
A stork makes a perfect nest.
My father looks at the clouds.
Can you tell a male from a female sparrow? He asks.
No, I can’t. I say.
Look, male sparrows have a dark stain on the chest,
like a bib or an apron. Females don’t.
And I look,
and there they are:
chests with aprons, chests without aprons.
Everything in order.
Clean or dirty,
black or white,
male or female.
I cross my arms against my chest.
My father does not look at me.
And then he says,
But we are not sparrows, you know.