by Billy Collins
was a rapid flapping sound, soft, insistent—
wings against glass as it turned out
downstairs when I saw the small bird
rioting in the frame of a high window,
trying to hurl itself through
the enigma of glass into the spacious light.
Then a noise in the throat of the cat
who was hunkered on the rug
told me how the bird had gotten inside,
carried in the cold night
through the flap of a basement door,
and later released from the soft grip of teeth.
On a chair, I trapped its pulsations
in a shirt and got it to the door,
so weightless it seemed
to have vanished into the nest of cloth.
But outside, when I uncupped my hands,
it burst into its element,
dipping over the dormant garden
in a spasm of wingbeats
then disappeared over a row of tall hemlocks.
For the rest of the day,
I could feel its wild thrumming
against my palms as I wondered about
the hours it must have spent
pent in the shadows of that room,
hidden in the spiky branches
of our decorated tree, breathing there
among the metallic angels, ceramic apples, stars of yarn,
its eyes open, like mine as I lie in bed tonight
picturing this rare, lucky sparrow
tucked into a holly bush now,
a light snow tumbling through the windless dark.
"Christmas Sparrow" by Billy Collins, from Aimless Love. © Random House 2013.
- 8 oz. softened cream cheese
- 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
- 1/3-1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 1 tsp. herbes de provence
- 4/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 pkg dried sweetened cranberries
- 2-3 TB. half and half
- 4 spinach tortillas (I used Mission brand garden spinach and herbs)
- In a food processor pulse feta cheese 3 times.
- In a medium sized bowl add feta cheese, cream cheese, herbes de provence and half and half.
- Beat and stir in cranberries and walnuts by hand.
- Divide and spread cream cheese mixture evenly between four spinach tortillas.
- Roll tightly, wrap in clear plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.
- To serve, cut into approximately 12 slices.
- 2 boxes Athens Mini Fillo Shells (3o shells total)
- 6 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
- 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 T. half and half
- 15 large red seedless grapes, quartered
- 2 T. honey
- 1 T. chopped fresh thyme
- freshly ground black pepper
- Remove Athens Mini- Fillo Shells from boxes, leave shells still in their protective tray.
- With an electric mixer, whip goat cheese and cream cheese in a medium bowl on high speed. Once incorporated, add the half and half, and then whip for a minute or two, until smooth and fluffy.
- Place a dollop of the mixture into the bottom of each fillo shell. Gently press two pieces of grape into the top of each whipped goat cheese dollop.
- If serving immediately, drizzle the grapes with a bit of honey. Then sprinkle a little thyme and black pepper over the top.
- If serving later in the day, place trays of fillo shells, with whipped goat cheese and grapes only back into the refrigerator. When ready to serve, drizzle on the honey and then add the thyme and black pepper.
- 8 tablespoons pomegranate juice
- 1 pint raspberry sorbet
- 4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
- chilled champagne
- Freeze your glasses until frosty.
- Add 2 tablespoons of pomegranate juice to the bottom of each glass.
- Add a few small scoops of the raspberry sorbet and 1 tablespoon of pomegranate seeds to each glass.
- Top with chilled champagne.
- 1 package large spinach or red flour tortilla
- 2 containers (tubs) of Philadelphia Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Cream Cheese Spread or Chipotle Peppers Cream Cheese Spread at room temperature
- black olives, diced
- 1-2 cups shredded white or yellow cheddar cheese
- Spread cream cheese mixture on the tortilla shell, sprinkle with diced olives and shredded cheese.
- Roll up the tortilla and make sure the tortilla is rolled tightly otherwise it will be difficult to cut.
- Repeat process with other tortillas. Use plastic wrap to cover each rolled tortillas and place in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the mixture to firmly set up.