Pick-a-Poem: Corrie Williamson


Happy middle-of-the-week, blog readers! I hope your week is going well so far. If you’ve gone back to school this week, I hope everything is running smoothly so far. Since it’s Wednesday, it’s time for us to feature another poem here on the blog. As always, the featured poem comes from Poetry Daily, an awesome website that offers you a new poet and poem each day of the week. This week we’re featuring A Sparrow’s Life’s as Sweet as Mine, by Corrie Williamson.

According to her bio page on Poetry Daily, Corrie Williamson has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Arkansas. At the University, she was a Walton Fellow and Director of the Writers in the Schools Program. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Missouri ReviewThe Colorado Review, and Crab Orchard Review.


Each year before the autumn fires
we’d climb the ladder’s tin rungs
to the roof. My father tied thick chain
to a length of rope and fed it clanking
down the chimney. Most house fires,
he explained, come from build-up
in the flue, creosote and pine tar
slicked to the inner walls: a would-be
howling throat of flame.
We scraped the danger away
with iron links. I never feared a fire
would take our lives: unimaginable
our bodies outlasting this house,
impossible as the first hunt I was permitted
to come on (after years of leaving
talismans in his coat pockets: a silver
leaf, an unopened pinecone,
green seaglass) when I held the doe’s
rear legs as he reached inside her,
his fist closing around the lungs
forcing her leftover breath into the air
as a cold gasped cloud. Those rooftop
mornings, perched above our beds,
we’d hear metal shouldering against
brick, sloughing soot. In lucky years
there would already be a deer
hung in the garage, her muscle
marbling to blue in the cold.
And we’d listen for the thrum
of wings, the sparrow navigating
past the chain and out of that puckered
black mouth, past our pale faces
and into the chilled air, wings soft
with ash, nest knocked free into the empty
space our fires would safely lick.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s featured poem! For more posts like this, click here!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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