A House Sparrow’s Song
By Victoria Siebor
Even within a crowd, one can discover wings.
In front of my house there’s a discolored wooden bench, naturally dyed by the sun and rain. When the weather permits, I like to sit there and wait for the birds to begin their conversations.
I always hear chirping—it’s one of the first sounds that comes to my ear when I step outside or open my window. I’ll look to the trees for any signs of movement before gazing at the sidewalk where the house sparrows try to avoid the people walking by. They hop around in their little dance, blending into the screeches of city life. I fixate on sparrows because they’re plain, they’re generic, and all the other adjectives I would give myself; they fade into the background with all their shades of brown, gray, and black.
I’ve made sure to notice house sparrows for as long as I can remember, from them hopping around on the pastel chalk drawings in my nearby playground, to the many nests they’ve created around my house over the years. They’ve found solace under old siding, gathered twigs from the overgrown grapevines, and used our urban jungle pipes to nest atop our yard, free from the eyes of watchful hawks. They go unnoticed and unrecognized by most. Yet, as minuscule as they are, I admire their ability to fly and to leave the concrete sidewalk.
There are only a few times when I feel the same liberation as the sparrows. When a certain piece of music speaks to me, I can’t help but extend my arms and imagine the wings I’m missing. Just as the birds fly, I dance. Having dedicated many formative years to my former studio, Hamilton Dance, I can’t recount the exact amount of time I spent within those purple walls, trying to correct every mistake in the wall-length mirrors. I learned all the contemporary leaps and jazz turns that the intermediate level allowed, even if I couldn’t complete the same extensions as my more flexible peers. I polished and perfected each three-minute song later to be performed on a recital stage.
Although my studio is no longer open, I utilize my experience and training as much as I can, both at home and at school. This year, I performed a short solo during an entirely student-run and created school production, S!NG. When I say short, I mean five seconds consisting of improvisation and a calypso jump, learned years ago, that still remained within every vein and muscle of my body. But those five seconds were mine.
In my eyes, dancing is the natural feat of flight, something that’s practiced until it becomes second nature. It’s my only passion where I have full control over my movement, where I don’t need validation to feel satisfied.
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
I also get that same liberating feeling when I write. I find myself including birds in almost all my creative writing. There’s always a clear distinction between the ground I’m forced to touch and the sky that only extends upwards. While the birds can fly to any destination and height they desire, I can simply hope to achieve those same heights through words.
Though I’m still learning to be proud of my writing without external validation, my main goal is to be able to look back on an art piece and feel satisfied with it. I can tell if I’m happy with the metaphor I wrote, similarly to how I can feel my arms lock and extend in the correct ways while dancing. There’s a certain energy that exists within the two art forms; I can feel if energy is physically obstructed in my body when I’m dancing, as well as if energy is emotionally obstructed when I’m writing. To me, a straight arm is of the same value as the right rhythm and rhyme in a set of lines. Writing and dancing are embedded in every part of my body, just as singing and flying are coded into every bird and sparrow.
Once I finished most of my college applications, I was overjoyed to finally start a new piece with no prompt to restrict or guide me. I turned to my Notes app and curated a collection of random observations in New York City to find that I mentioned birds in almost every draft.
I draw a lot of my inspiration from nature, and thus I wanted to focus on birds, house sparrows specifically, because I longed for the confidence and carefreeness they seemed to possess. My mentor guided my essay’s structure and helped me answer the questions I didn’t know I had the answers to. Blending together my core interests in dance, nature, and creative writing, this piece helped me make the connections between myself and the birds I often admire.
Victoria Siębor was born and raised in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Though she loves the city’s glass and concrete buildings, she’s constantly drawn to the hum of the leaves and anything related to trees, mountains and lakes. Victoria has an avid love of learning Latin, doing social science research and reading literature. She enjoys all forms of dancing, especially jazz and contemporary. She hopes to publish short stories exploring her upbringing as a child of Polish immigrants.