A Flurry of Finches

by Tina Schumann

 Why hadn’t I noticed them before?
a flurry of finches in the ash tree
just this side of the front fence.
The week of my mother’s funeral
and suddenly there they are; ten or more busy workers
in velvet suits of black and beige. Darting from branch
to limb, toothpick twigs in tiny beaks.
One or two eyed me quickly
with a sideways tilt of the head and moved on.
Why now? I’ve walked beneath this tree twice a day
for fifteen years and never once a finch, much less
a battalion of them.
           Finches – her favorite.
When I was young she kept them
in white cages hung in a corner
of the kitchen. Males and females
springing nervously from plastic perch to wire frame.
When my father cleaned their cages
one small body or another would flutter
out the open door and cling to a curtain rod.
He would approach the frightened escapee
cautiously and catch it in softly cupped hands
between window and wall.
I imagined its furious minute heart
beating against the dark enclosure of his hands.
He said they would not be afraid
         of what they could not see


Tina Schumann is the author of three poetry collections, As If (Parlor City Press), recipient of the Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize, Requiem: A Patrimony of Fugues (Diode Editions), winner of the Diode Editions Chapbook Contest for 2016, and Praising the Paradox (Red Hen Press, 2019.) She is editor of the anthology Two Countries: U.S. Daughters and Sons of Immigrant Parents (Red Hen Press, 2017). Her work has appeared widely since 1999.