Wednesday Poem

Winter Finch
The small red finch
so deftly slips
from the swaddling
and unseeing snow
that all envelops,
and buries all,
he thrills
and puffs
his buff red bib,
flicks his tail,
turns the lanterns
on his wings, left
right, left,
preens the gold
fleck on his
pope and
his beak
with an inspired eye
t’wards the ash’s
knobbly buds,
his craw
as if an ember
sets his throat
ablush –

and –

from the frozen holly,
snow divested
he escapes,
zips a zigzag trail of fire
the sky before
he fades,
a tint,
a sound,
that we tell each other,
and withhold,
and re-narrate
under the table lamp
when everything
has turned once more
to white and black
and silence
as before.

by Marlene van Niekerk
from Poetry International, 2013
translation by author