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Judith Alexander Brice: Fledgling Times

The leaves are burnished still, 
       yet many 
bear shades of fall— hints of 
       ocher, carmine, umber-wheat. 
Some are cupped, upside down, 
       turned backwards, 
or rest dead, askew as they face
       the sky, lie flat like sails, 
their boats aground. Listless, they 
      glance towards a floating
curl of clouds. These, our leafy fall 
      debris, lie in wait
of broom, a rake, or deluge 
      from incessant rain. 
Robins have flown, but sparrows, 
      wrens, the cardinals 
seem quite unchanged from a year 
      before, even from 
last summer’s heat— now lost, 
      these recent days. Meanwhile
our back-veranda bears witness 
      to a lengthy new debate. 
Do the twitters to our ears emerge 
      from house or purple finch?
Or maybe from their second 
     cousin, the redpoll,
which seems to appear (by the 
     bird-book, anyway) to be 
a little too red for us to call 
      this chirper 
by that name. Perhaps it should 
      be named the house finch, 
despite being purple, extra plump 
      as indeed befits the appearance
of the purple finch. These obsessions
      transport Charlie and me, replace
other thoughts, the news of 200,000 
      dead from COVID, that virus 
which floats like an aerosol— from
      here to everywhere, from axon
to dendrite, to the next neuron, to 
      our bodies—then back again.
Albeit burnished, our leaves 
      seem different now.
We muse on our approach to this, 
      our autumn of retreat. 
I fill the dog dish on our porch with 
      fresh water and watch 
for squirrels, blue jays, the tiny wrens, 
      those twittering finches
and bobbing mourning doves, all new 
      callers to this muddy bowl: 
disparate visitors during these 
      unknown and fledgling times, 
as we, restless, move inside to our 
      new and vacant winter space—
No family, no friends— nor surprise 
      callers will arrive at our door   
to greet us with a friendly smile, 
      a folding embrace.

Judith Alexander Brice’s books include Overhead from Longing (David Robert Books, 2018).

Copyright 2020 Judith Alexander Brice.

Eastern Purple Finch, adult male (photo: All About Birds)

3 comments on “Judith Alexander Brice: Fledgling Times

  1. drjudybricbrac
    November 25, 2020

    I am really touched by your comment! Thank you!–Judy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Huntington
    November 25, 2020

    I love the way I am pulled into this as in conversation with an old friend. I, too, debate House Finch or Purple, although the lesser goldfinches still dominate the feeders. And which hummer? Rufus? Allen’s? The dog water and food remain inside to thwart night visitors—rats? Raccoons? Opossums? And, of course, it is just me and the dog. Waiting.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on November 25, 2020 by in Environmentalism, Health and Nutrition, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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