Spring 1985, Volume 2

Clarence F. Socwell
Parable of Road and Bird

I asked directions once
where the hill fell sharply
and the road forked left and right.
When I stopped, a boy jumped up
from catching lizards,
his unruly hair matted with sweat
of the interrupted task
and heated noon.

He grabbed my hand
in answer to my question
and pulled me to the gray house,
a shanty withered by wind and sun.
Inside, his grandmother sat reading.
She laughed when the boy
told her what I wanted.
She stood up hugging me to her
like a son returning.

She told us dinner was ready
and put out good dishes,
a small bowl of potatoes
boiled in the skins,
a dish of greens,
and a little pile of bones and meat
directly on my plate.

The boy's triumphant grin
burst across his face.
"A lizard?" I asked.
"No, a sparrow.
I hit it with a stone."

I tried to share
but they would have none
saying the guest
should have the special treat.
I ate, thanked them,
and asked directions again.
"it makes no difference,"
the boy said.
"Either way will take you there."