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The Kinloch Rivers Memorial Prize

Susan Finch Stevens

Chickadee: List


The chickadee, beak rigged
with delicate strands,
threads the eye doorway
of the fish-shaped birdhouse
hooked low in the backyard oak.
Relentless, she dives into darkness,
plunges headlong
into the belly of the fish
then darts once more
into the provident world,
into the blinding day.
Plump with hope of eggs to come,
she collects modest needs
for her concealed craft,
then forms, with the keel
of the breast it will hold,
a hull reflecting
the hidden architecture
of her own small bones.
She gathers and molds
even as blue jays bait,
casting their taunts
from higher branches,
even as the calico
wades shadows below,
angling her own hopes
from the patio’s
shade-splashed stones.

Chickadee: Text
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