© 2001, Carl Thomas Gladstone

In the middle of a school day in the middle of a puddle
a little boy sat—making creatures out of mud.
His wide eyes captured all of the spectacle before him;
his tongue stuck out of the corner of his smile.

The boy created as clay moved through his toes.
He lost his fingers in the earth.
He welcomed the mess and smeared mud onto his cheek,
which dried and gave him wrinkles.

Between his hands, two forms grew.
He took great care with each curve, each shape.
Soon there were legs, and beaks, then bodies.
And with a splash the boy created wings.

There were three there in the puddle when the teacher finally came,
the boy and his two birds growing from the mud.
The teacher looked down, the boy looked up.
She said, “You can’t do that here.”

Without a word the boy looked down at the creatures he had made,
and with a grin looked up at the sky.
He clapped his hands to wipe away the mud and suddenly at that sound. . .

The creatures from the puddle came to life.
The mud dried and the mud crumbled.
Underneath they were sparrows, and overhead now they are flying.

And in the middle of a school day, in the middle of a puddle,
a little boy sits smiling at his creatures made of mud.
His eyes are on those sparrows as they fly far away.
From the mud they’ve come, through the hands of a little boy.
Through the hands that freed them—

Their lives were not bound to this place anyway.