The Institute for Advanced Studies
The house finch pauses before a note
to take a breath then sings its song
to announce the apotheosis of its species,
a kind of migration of the spirit
that is suggested by the bird lifting off
the branch and disappearing after its third
or fourth flying undulation.
I can tell because I’m an ornithologist,
a scholar of the wing and have paid
much attention to the house finch song.
Mostly it’s useless chatter, self-inflation,
and its kind might or might not
answer back. But there is a point–
usually early morning or late evening–where
the song pierces through, and I have to
turn from my notes, put down my binoculars.
I wonder if it knows what effect it makes.