On Hearing the Golden-crowned Sparrow

Brenda Hillman

Half-sweet        squeal.sounds like one hearing aid placed on the table ...A song knowsmore than one way.                    When hills catch fire,this sparrow stays(or, returns                   to the same bush       each year—)                                                                              We loved each other                                      when we couldn't love ourselves,our life a time-shaped miracle.                   A new ash is covering the plants, planet ...                         plans::the song's enchantment        has a grainy hunger,finishingly,        seep-seep,            nightlyfinishing                          unearthbound,    like a Saturday.Its broad eyebrows      crowd its crown.When we are sad about poetry,                   when the immortals can'tbe heard                           because of fire                   this staggered sound.                Splitsplendor            (about                   our height, from the ground—)

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Brenda Hillman is the author of eleven collections from Wesleyan University Press, including Extra Hidden Life, among the Days (2018) and In a Few Minutes Before Later (2022). She has edited and co-translated many books, including At Your Feet by Brazilian poet Ana Cristian Cesar. She served as a Chancellor at the Academy of American Poets from 2016-2022, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she directs the Poetry Week at Community of Writers and is a Professor Emerita at Saint Mary’s College of California. http://blueflowerarts.com/artist/brenda-hillman/

Middletown, Connecticut

"[Hillman's] work is fierce but loving, risk-taking, and beautiful."
Harvard Review

"[Hillman's] most recent books are rooted in broad social and ecological interests: 'passion' is a better term. She has invented a kind of dialogue with the earth; she writes with an intimacy and directness few equal and a magnificence of conception almost no one aspires to."
―Citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Morton Dauwen Zabel Award 2020)

"She is lightning 'the sea shines purple in.' With a seed bomb of words, she takes on the system... without once turning her back on lyrical splendor."
―C.D. Wright, "The Book That Brenda Wrote" [from The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All]

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