William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Apricots, Finches, Plums

Found early this morning, fallen from the tree: a very ripe, very sweet apricot — I know, because I ate it right after washing off the ants.

The house finches prefer drinking from the shallow glass water dish that we have hanging from the fig tree. The main birdbath, it seems, is a little too large and too busy for them.

After watering the barrels, planters, and pots behind the house, I turned with the trickling hose to fill the shallow dish, only to find a male finch already there having a drink. He stopped and looked at me. I said, “That’s okay, you go ahead and finish.” He took several more sips, then flew up to a nearby fir branch and watched me freshen his supply.

Years ago, it must have been the house finch’s song that I’d sit and listen to and try to imitate in the neighbor’s Santa Rosa plum trees at the north end of our farm. We held entire conversations. I was about eight or nine, ten at the most. At the time I thought they were sparrows. I thought all small birds were sparrows — anything that wasn’t a blackbird, or mockingbird, or mourning dove, or woodpecker, or robin, or buzzard, or quail. But sparrows don’t sound like house finches. Even then, I knew what sparrows sounded like. They chattered by the hundreds in our ash tree. The birds in the plum orchard were completely different. Anyway, what use can names possibly have in heaven?

July 4, 2021


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