THE NEST AT APPLEWOOD APARTMENTS
In a pot of impatiens I hung outside my apartment door,
a house finch built her nest.
Three small eggs, white with potential.
Day after day, she huddled over them—flew off, came back,
ruffled by our passings and her instinct to protect.
Without water, the plant withered, leaves dried and fell
leaving her exposed. Still she stayed
protected by the portico from thunderstorms and hail,
feral cats in the bushes, redtails circling overhead.
When the eggs hatched we dug binoculars out to look—
we craned our necks. And I began
to think of them as my birds
as if I was charged with their protection.
How fierce that instinct was!
I might have been young again,
worrying about the safety of my children.
I feared she’d give up, abandon them.
But when finally they flew, I wasn’t there,
gone for the weekend to my grandson’s graduation party.
My neighbor told me that on the last day
both parents came to teach them flight,
guiding them through the lower air,
the young wings fluttering, unsteady at first.
And then, she said, all at once, other finches came
with their own apprentice flyers.
How I wish I’d seen it!
Nine birds at least, flying around and around
just several feet above the grass, the air alive—
a celebration of twittering and wings,
a graduation—and then, gone.
—from Rattle #26, Winter 2006