Finch elegy

I forbore
checking the finch nest
in the wreath
on the door

after three
maybe four
little finches hatched

in the cold

I knew that February
seemed too early
for laying

that sustained
freezing in March
could take a toll

but I heard Mama
and Papa House Finch
chattering all along
with babies’ bright voices

until a day or so ago

they’ve fledged and gone
, so
I told myself

when it is warm,
I will check the nest

(don’t disturb them
in this cold)…

Today, it is warm
like spring should be

with the earth bathed
in watercolor pastels
a blossom-spattered mosaic
after soft rainfall

and so I came to see
if the fledglings had gone
at last

not prepared
for what I found

hanging backward
over the front
of the nest
open mouth and closed eyes
pointing to the sky

wedged in back
against the door
essentially fused
into the nest itself

they are
too tiny
and new
and perfect
to be dead

but they are
they are

a sibling or two
must have made it
to the skies

but these
sweetest little wings
I’ve ever seen
shall never rise

so now I lay
these lost ones
down for keeps

rip away the
beautiful nest
and sweep
and sweep

in silence
where there was
so recently
such happy song

not knowing what
went wrong

(and never will)

it is just
The Way of Things

my heart wrings
in two

and cries

A couple of my hardy finch fledglings in a previous year


with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the monthlong Slice of Life Story Challenge

21 thoughts on “Finch elegy

  1. What an emotional poem! I especially love when you wrote, “with the earth bathed
    in watercolor pastels
    a blossom-spattered mosaic
    after soft rainfall” iYou bring your reader with you as you describe the setting and your discovery of nature. Just beautiful!


  2. Ohhh– even though the comment and the title set me up to know the outcome, your poem still captures the grief and the loss. Repetition is powerful is this piece. Content wise, your actions share so much of who you are as a keeper and caretaker and appreciator of joyful moments and outcomes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My heart fell as I got to the word “freeze”, the foreshadowing predicting your ending. So sorry, Fran. Will the finches come back this spring and try again, you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fran, why am I so sad? I wait and wait and wait for the word of these babies I have come to love in your door wreath for these years, and now……nature has turned on them. Your repetition of they are is the final acceptance that things cannot be changed, heartbeats cannot start over, life cannot begin anew. These poor babies. The comforting thing is that perhaps they went together – not alone – their spirits soaring out beyond the horizon, though wings were left behind. I have to believe it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, Kim – I have to believe the little finch spirits soared beyond the horizon together, too. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father….” the tiny finches are in the hands of God, the Creator, who cares for them. Infinite possibility, indeed…


  5. Fran, I’m weeping. Your title gave us a warning, but I just didn’t want it to be so. You relayed the story and your heart in so few beautifully-chosen words. Thank you, and I’m glad some of them made it out to use those “sweetest little wings / I’ve ever seen” Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh no, no, no, those poor little finches that didn’t make it. I had that same sense of foreboding when I clicked on your link. One can only take comfort in the two other little ones that hopefully made it out alive. Such a poignant poem of loss.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It wrung my heart, Celia, the loss of those tiny fledged babies. It really did. Hard to know what happened…by now you know the parents have started over, so beautifully! I have no words for how much this restored my soul.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Molly, the day after I tore the old nest down the finches began building a new one. On Day 3 it is just beautiful, completely lined with soft white fluff…waiting to welcome new precious life, any morning now.


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