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American Goldfinch


The summer’s American goldfinch

Has no Thomas doubting it’s him,

That heavenly lemon on wings

In his handsome licorice trim.

An Icarus, half-pint and sunny,

Who fell in a whole lot of money:

It appears that his trip to the sun

Was a marvel of riches and fun.


His conspicuous consumption

In the royal guard of the thistle;

 His telltale gift of treetop gab;

And when the blue skies are his missal,

Those pretty notes he strings along

To wed his scalloped flight to song:

He’s so knit in body and spirit

You can see his life’s journey—or hear it.


You won’t find him gilding a snowfall,

And yet he’s no nabob who bolts

To winter in tropical balm—

No, in the first chill of fall he molts:

We’re all poorer for it, I’d say,

When he gives his cool millions away,

And bundled in warm olive drab

He’s as far as the sparrows from fab,


Dialed down like his sidekick, his steady,

His plain-feathered Mennonite mate,

Who shadows his summertime limelight,

Though faithful is not her sure fate:

If by the spring’s nesting her finch

Still suffers the pauper’s sharp pinch,

If he’s not again solar-god yellow—

Well, her honey sure won’t be this fellow.


But trust when the broadleaves are green

He’ll be back in his alchemic shine,

In the thistle, or signing blue skies,

Like an icon that flew from its shrine.

This most favored son of the sun

And prospector second to none,

Who himself is the nugget he merits,

The goldfinch, all forty carats.

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