Wednesday, December 17, 2008


From The Writers Almanac

Cardinals by John L. Stanizzi

for Carol

I had seen them in the tree,
and heard they mate for life,
so I hung a bird feeder
and waited.
By the third day,
sparrows and purple finches
hovered and jockeyed
like a swarm of bees
fighting over one flower.
So I hung another feeder,
but the squabbling continued
and the seed spilled
like a shower
of tiny meteors
onto the ground
where starlings
had congregated,
and blue jays,
annoyed at the world,
disrupted everyone
except the mourning doves,
who ambled around
like plump old women
poking for the firmest
head of lettuce.

Then early one evening
they came,
the only ones—
she stood
on the periphery
of the small galaxy of seed;
he hopped
among the nuggets,
calmly chose
one seed at a time,
carried it to her,
placed it in her beak;
she, head tilted,
accepted it.
Then they fluffed,
hopped together,
did it all over again.

And filled with love,
I phoned to tell you,
over and over,
about each time
he celebrated
being there,
all alone,
with her.


Anonymous said...

I absolutely loved this poem and sent it along to my lover. It is dear and profound. Tried unsuccessfully to google a biography of the poet, as I thought that, even though he left out the huge crows that gather on the ground with the starlings and jays (and chase them all away) he must be from somewhere close to me, in lower-upstate New York state. I have often observed the cardinals at my two feeders, and sometimes, in the spring and summer, I have seen as many as 6 or 7 at once. In my yard, the female, in all her subtly colored, wildly accessorized (those bright orange beaks) glory, are the advance troops, sussing out the danger at the feeder while the outrageously red male lingers, trying unsuccessfully to blend in, in trees some 25 yards away, approaching the feeder only when the female has demonstrated that it is safe. Thank you for this lovely poem.

staniz said...

Greetings Anonymous, and thank you so much for the kind words. Try for that bio.

Have a beautiful holiday season.