St. Thomas and the Forbidden Birds
Beyond the window, morning sparrows made
Their song as if the whole world’s goodness paid
Its plenty out for them and them alone.
The old saint heard their joy and squelched a moan
As his legs, stiff and heavy still with sleep,
Arranged themselves beneath his cassocked heap
Of belly. Where had he left off before?
He asked his three amanuenses, more
For their sakes—sprightly fingers, sluggish minds—
Than his. One said, with the forbidden kinds
Of birds and what their figures signified
For Moses, who charged the eagle’s flight with pride.
Aquinas sat a moment, mind withdrawn
From his mouth’s taste of buttered loaves, the song
Without, the wish for more wood in