by Susan Harlan
The sparrows at Walmart look too sick to fly, so they sit on the tarred concrete. They keep close together, next to a slice of bread and a half-smashed French fry. One rouses himself and pecks at the fry. Then he settles down again, into his rumpled feathers.
A woman comes out with boxes of ornaments, twinkle lights, a wreath with a red bow, and a plastic model of a winter skating pond. She loads it all into her car, and the sparrows peck at the fry.
Inside, an enormous Santa watches over the pre-lit tinsel trees, and a child cries in his cart, the inflatable man more horrid than he imagined.
Featured photo by l_dawg2000 from Flickr Creative Commons.
Susan Harlan is an English professor at Wake Forest University, where she specializes in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature. Her essays have appeared in venues such as The Toast, Literary Mothers, The Awl, The American Guide, Public Books, The Manifest-Station, The Feminist Wire and Skirt!, and she has a monthly column for Nowhere magazine entitled “The Nostalgic Traveler.” Read her previous piece Boar’s Head here.