Doubting Finches

by Scott Edward Anderson

The house finch nest in my porch light
has a curious architecture,
made entirely of found things:
dried seed heads from last year’s columbine,
dusky strands of my daughter’s hair,
small sticks, rose thorns, bits of string,
a gold thread from a cigarette pack wrapper.

Inside, wool-lined, cotton and fleece,
it holds three eggs, blue with tawny flecks.
The female finch sits on the nest
for an unusually long time; so long,
I fear she is mistaken or my messing
with the nest has disrupted gestation.
She picked her mate for the redness
of his head and chest, proxy for feeding prowess.
(I guess.)

In a few weeks all will be gone:
cherry blossoms drifting on air,
dogwoods blooming, oaks leafing out,
and the female finch finding another mate,
to start a second family this season.
Who was it that said, “Doubt is a privilege
of the faithful”? At least, I think someone
said it or should have. Then it was me,
me finding another mate, another home,
another reason. And I saw they swept out
the finch nest from that old porch light
as soon as I was gone.


Scott Edward Anderson is the author of Fallow Field (Aldrich Press, 2013) and Walks in Nature’s Empire (The Countryman Press, 1995). He has been a Concordia Fellow at the Millay Colony for the Arts and received the Nebraska Review Award.