The Heron and the finch

The Heron and the finch

for David Shevin


part 1David Shevin


I can see your passion.

It is brewing to explode.


part 2

We were a pair.

A heron and a brown finch–

Who had just found their own birdsongs.


part 3


I pulled you

from the wreckage of

so many years ago–

from the destruction

of the red winged blackbird–

who had covered your feathers with mud clay–

who had written his voice for your life

on a parchment roll–

who had pecked out your eyes

for coal black stones

and out of your golem corpse,

you had burned–

but the furnace I could feel

was on the inside.


part 4


A finch does not do well with clay.

Feathers cannot molt and fold.

Clay gets tricky and gets into

the smallest of places.


part 5


You pulled the parchment out

and said my voice was to be heard.

You scraped fingernails through clay

and said my skin was to be naked.

You rested your beard beside my face

and pleaded in your most fatherish voice–

I was to open my eyes.


part 6


I was small.

I was brown feathers of residue.

I was whispers of scratch.

But one day,

I will be tall with legs of trees.

But one day,

I will be white with feathers of cream.


part 7


until this day

when your fatherish voice

fell silent.

until this day

when you sit on your couch

growing tired.

until this day

when you rest in your jacket

of elbow patches and  ACLU pin

and a Scout on your lap

while Mahalia or Ry warbles on the player

into your sleep.


part 8

I wait now for I am weary

of stretching my legs that won’t grow,

of croaking my whisper what won’t sing,

of painting on white — the brown will not molt away.


part 9


If we had sat again

in the Mexican restaurant

telling jokes about the priest and the bear…

If we had stayed at your home

conducting private readings for each other

of someone finding Jesus on the way to Las Vegas

while sharing a cigarette…


You might have said to me

just one more time–

“Well, hello my Cherie!”


I would not feel this golem-shell hollowness.



part 10

until this day when you rest

and this finch finds her ringing voice

but it is not beautiful

and the neighbors don’t want to hear it

for it wails and wails and wails.

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