• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 05
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Three Finches and a Starling

The sweet high
tseep-tseep of the
goldfinch – the one
Fabritius set on the top
of that curious box
in his painting –
dwindled to silence.

Carduelis carduelis,
with his thistle-hunger
and bloodied face that
tells Raphael’s
Christ child of the
sharp thorn-crown,
now weighs so little.

The chattering
starling underneath
the pile of finches.
Stumpy, speckled,
sharp-billed, clever
and sociable. Reduced
to a study in feathers, strong
claws, a delicate breastbone,
a poem’s soft armature.