Today's poem is by Susan Meyers

Hat of Many Goldfinches

Say you could wear twenty goldfinches on your head,
ten females in their soft, modest plumage
and ten bright males.
                                    What jubilation,
all that twittering and hopping about.
Little feet massaging your scalp, little beaks
perchicoreeing to everyone you pass.
                                        No need for ribbons
or veils on your black and yellow nest
of excitement, your curious crown of animation.

But how to seduce the finches to stay. A sprinkle
of thistle in your hair might hold them
long enough for you to kneel
                                        at the altar of morning.
Gives you goose bumps
to feel the beaks tapping against your skin.
Walking down noon’s aisle, you nod
and they shift a little.
                                    More shuffling,
and the hat is rearranged. Take your photo,
or look in the mirror, and the hat you see there
is another, not the same hat you wear now.

Never depend on a hat of goldfinches
                                            to bore you.
And forget the hatbox. These hats rest in sweetgums
and maples, on a narrow shelving of limbs.

I once knew a woman who wore her robin hat
when the finches wouldn’t come. But the hat was heavy
and the brown depressed her.
                                    She stayed home that morning,
her hair crawling with worms. The day she wore her
bluebird hat the bugs bothered her breathing,
the smallest attracted to the wind of her nostrils.

                                        Now she knows to wait
for the finches. As long as there are finches
there’s a dream of a hat of finches—
                                            the hat
we all want to wear on the day we die.
Imagine your own last dimming, its perfect
orchestration: final breath, pause,
                                        a sudden fluttering
and lifting of forty somber wings.

Copyright © 2006 Susan Meyers All rights reserved
from Keep and give away
University of South Carolina Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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