Poetry by Wendy Galgan

“Here, in the gloaming…”
                By Wendy Galgan
                        for Grace Schulman

Here, in the gloaming,
two goldfinches visit the feeder.
A mated pair, they wait for each day’s
hurly-burly to end. Not for them
the flutter and whirl
of nuthatch, cardinal, and chickadee.
Not for them the chittering squirrel-clan battles,
the growl and snap of warring chipmunks.

Only after the animals leave,
after the titmouses and phoebes fly away,
will the male finch – round and yellow
as a child’s crayoned sun – glide down
from the tallest pine
to land atop the feeder pole.

He waits there, head cocked,
for a long moment,
offering himself as bait
for the young hawk who hunts this island,
until he deems it safe and
trills his mate down to join him.

The breeze has died.
No boat engines sound from the river
beyond the copse of maples, oaks, and birches.
No traffic passes in front of the house.
No voices carry from the pond across the street.

From up here on the back deck,
I can hear the rustle of the finches’ wings,
the soft crack as the birds break open sunflower seeds.
The pileated woodpecker’s sporadic “tchur, tchur, tchur”
sounds from the trees, comes between his sharp
tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on the far side of a young maple.
As the light begins to fade to heather-purple,
the church bell on Barter’s Island sounds across the water.

The twilight deepens and the sturdy Nova Scotia roses,
bright blooming and fragrant,
show pink against the deepening light.
Skittish mourning doves nestle beneath the rosebushes,
their gray feathers fading into the twilight
while the white markings on their tails
glow nearly as brightly as the roses above their heads.

The decking beneath my bare feet still holds the day’s heat,
but as the sun drops further behind the trees,
the air on my bare shoulders and legs cools rapidly,
more so as a light breeze picks up, bringing with it
the scent of grass and dirt, of the swampy mud
down at the bottom of the backyard.

Quiet movement through last year’s fallen leaves,
and a young red fox emerges from a group of oaks.
He lifts his snout, sniffs, turns and looks
directly at where I sit in my rocker, then
shakes himself from head to tail
and trots to the feeder.

The goldfinches keep to their perches
as the fox settles on his haunches and
begins to eat the cast-off seeds on the ground.
All of us – birds, fox, me – exist together,
quietly, moving very little,
here in the gloaming.

- Wendy Galgan is Chair and Associate Professor of English at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and editor of Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts & Letters. Her poems have appeared in journals such as California Quarterly, on the website On Earth As It Is, and in anthologies such as Villanelles, Grabbing the Apple, and The Moon. She and her husband live in a mid-coast town in Maine.

Copyright©2020 by Wendy Galgan – All Rights Reserved