Finches in a live Oak


When I think I hear voices,

I know it's really finches

at the feeder.


Darting from the perches

to the dark brittle branches

of a tree called


Quercus Virginia,

the finches don't know that

it is more dead


than alive. That their mottled

bodies revive brown leaves, left

acornless for several seasons.


When the wind finally stirs,

I hear my grandmother's sigh

that "these things pass."


Now the finches' chatter is

A lullaby; their thistle-seed

lisp, a whispered prayer


I find myself repeating:

seeing how Spanish Moss can't

cling eternal.


Deborah H. Doolittle