Leonard Cohen

The Sparrows

Catching winter in their carved nostrils
the traitor birds have deserted us,
leaving only the dullest brown sparrows
for spring negotiations.
I told you we were fools
to have them in our games,
but you replied:
       They are only wind-up birds
who strut on scarlet feet
so hopelessly far
from our curled fingers.
I had moved to warn you,
but you only adjusted your hair
and ventured:
       Their wings are made of glass and gold
and we are fortunate
not to hear them splintering
against the sun.
Now the hollow nests
sit like tumors or petrified blossoms
between the wire branches
and you, an innocent scientist,
question me on these brown sparrows:
whether  we   should  plant
                                    our yards  with  breadcrumbs
or mark them with the black, persistent crows
whom we hate and stone.
But what shall I tell you of migrations
when in this empty sky
the precise ghosts of departed summer birds
still trace old signs;
or of desperate flights
when the dimmest flutter of a coloured wing 
excites all our favorite streets
to delight in imaginary spring.