Binoculars focusing on russet crown,
White line above the eye, and gray breast—
We first concentrated on the females
Who lacked the hues in their names—
Purple Finch? Rose-breasted Grosbeak?
Red-winged Blackbird? No.
We spied some more, my firstborn and I,
Laughing like schoolgirls at our failures
To conjure the word while the bird
Perched on pear tree branches,
Nonchalantly glancing toward us.
Try again, it seemed to taunt
In its lung-fueled falsetto,
Just see if you can speak
My name. And I gave up,
Passed the field guide to Ashley,
My finger, by chance, bookmarking
The page. As sudden as a spell,
She announced the appellation.
How we marveled then,
Not so much because we knew,
Though it did bring satisfaction,
But because that Chipping Sparrow stayed there,
Pitching its notes to the enchanted world.
From Slipping Out of Bloom (WordTech Editions, 2010).
Used with the author’s permission.