David Crews
Saltmarsh Sparrow
Thanks to Chris Elphick, et al

Ammodramus caudacutus 5¼ in (13 cm). Once common sparrow with ochre outlined head, gray ear patch, spot-streaked breast and flanks. Specialist species. Inhabits narrow strip of salt marsh in and out Atlantic and upper Gulf coast. Member of the sharp-tailed group. Differs from Nelson’s sparrow with skulking habits and faintly audible song. Solitary and secretive. Thought of by native inhabitants to be storyteller, keeper of myths. Totem spirit. Nantucket carrier of calm seas. First recorded domestication of old world relative by Romans, arrived at the crucifixion. Lifter of souls, the words, Saint Francis. Difficult to keep as pet unless handled at very young age. And loss in pain as The Boke of Phyllyp Sparrow by John Skelton. New research claims the slight song of this little brown bird easily forgotten. Recent nesting sites found unavailable due to rising sea level and influx of superstorms. Population numbers, despite evidence, dwindling rapidly upwards of 9% annually.

David Crews is author of High Peaks (RA Press, 2015) and Circadian Rhythm (Paulinskill Poetry Project, 2014). His poems and essays have appeared in journals such as The Greensboro Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Stone Canoe, and SPECTRUM. He serves as editor for The Stillwater Review.