Sparrows And Pigeons

In mid-1950’s I was a young boy with a gun -
a Daisy BB air rifle with which I had great fun.
At first I shot at paper targets, tin cans, and
kitchen matchsticks, but all too soon I began
to want ‘to hunt’, to face the challenge of stalking,
of shooting something alive. My parents were willing
for me to kill birds - not all birds, mind you, not
the songbirds, not the ‘pretty ones’. “If the bird’s got
pretty feathers - red, yellow, or blue - he’s not for you.”
So I had license, approval to kill sparrows, pigeons too.
And kill them I did! Watching a mortally wounded, poor
pigeon fall, flopping and flailing, from the rooftop sure
gave me a thrill. A head shot - what a great kill!

As I acquired an older age, I became more sage...

Now, fifty years later, I have an interest in birds still.
Only today I watch and admire them coming to eat
at five feeders found in my back yard. Sparrows are neat
little birds, plucky, adaptable, altogether quite admirable.
Today I regret the ignorance, the arrogance so remarkable
that caused me to discriminate against the pigeon, the sparrow.
Then I was young, with a mind both foolish and narrow.
Now I understand to mistreat on the basis of how they sing
or how pretty I find their feathers is a truly abhorrent thing.

Harry Edward Gilleland      09.15.02