is all around
be still, listen
to the sound
to hopes lost
here in the song
life and grace
Backstory: House finches return year after year to build nests on my front door wreath. Every spring and summer, my porch becomes a bird sanctuary and nursery; I, a present but uninvolved custodian, watch it all unfolding from the periphery. This winter the little finch pair actually roosted in the wreath at night. That is a first. I imagined them nestled together in the grapevine, keeping each other warm, dreaming dreams of life to come. They started awfully early this season, building their nest in the wreath and laying at least four eggs before the last week of February. It was still cold. March arrived with gusting winds and sustained freezing temperatures; I worried about the tiny life on my door. During winter’s only snow this year, well before before spring officially arrived, the baby finches hatched. Because of the cold, I stayed away; I didn’t want to startle Mama Finch, who needed to be on the nest keeping her babies warm. I saw the hatchlings when they were a day or two old and didn’t check again for about three weeks…expecting they had fledged and possibly gone, as the happy singing and trilling bird-talk at my door had ceased. When I came around to check the nest, I found one fledgling dead, its little head drooped over the front of the nest, and another beautiful fledgling, so tiny, with such perfect little wings, enmeshed with the nest at the back—almost becoming part of the nest. This is another first: in all these generations of finches I’ve not known any babies to die. In fact, they usually stay in the nest after they can fly, seemingly unwilling to leave. I marvel at how they can still stuff themselves into it. Home sweet home…until now. Not wanting to leave the dead baby finches and fearing there were parasites or some disease in the nest, I removed the babies, placed them deep in a bed of leaves by the woods out back, and destroyed the old nest.
It broke my heart.
The parents must have been watching me…I read that birds mourn for their little lost ones.
They began rebuilding immediately. With urgency, Soon there was a perfect green nest artistically adorned with a long gray feather from some other bird, lined with layers of the softest, whitest fluff —wherever do they find this? And a week before Easter there were five—five!—new eggs.
They began hatching yesterday. I’ve been keeping close watch…and this is the first time I’ve caught a glimpse (just the very quickest glimpse) of a finch actually hatching.
The poem at the opening was inspired by one shared for VerseLove on Ethical ELA yesterday, coinciding with the hatching of these finch eggs: Why Do You Write Poems When Death is All Around Us?
The answer, for me, is a matter of awe: Life is all around, somehow overcoming, even singing at the door.
with thanks to Andy Schoenborn for sharing Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre’s poem yesterday
and Two Writing Teachers for the weekly Slice of Life story sharing-place
and to the finches
for infusing my days
with so much awe