The Lesser Goldfinch by Connie Wanek

It was hardly bigger than an apricot,

a goldfinch, yes, but smaller and paler,

a little ghost in the lavender

eating seeds too tiny for

my old eyes. Sometimes I think

Heaven needn’t measure

even two by two

inches, much less all the sky

above the Vatican;

for peace is lodged deep

within the very

spacious thought of itself.

Quiet bird, your gestures

are vast in such a place

as I dream of.

The Lesser Goldfinch

I saw a tiny goldfinch the other morning in our Hydrangea tree, a brief flicker of songbird sunshine before it flew elsewhere. And then I saw this poem and each seemed to speak to the other so here you are. The finch is said to symbolize liveliness, exuberance and enthusiasm in your life – I felt that in the moment.

I was taken by the idea of comparing this bird which I will likely never hold, to an apricot which I most likely will. This makes it tangible, gives it some weight, slight though it would be. Something so small and pale that it appears as a little ghost in the lavender, feeding on tiny seeds. Perhaps you have seen one too.

She moves from this elegant description of such a small bird to placing it in the context of a heaven which needn’t measure even two by two inches. This feathered creature is as good as heaven itself in the poet’s eyes and doesn’t need all the sky / above the Vatican – vast yet contained.

In this bird she sees peace deep within, with movements that give vision to such a place / as I dream of. The image of that fleeting goldfinch remains with me, a flash of golden light and a sense that it held so much more than its tiny body suggests.

8 thoughts on “The Lesser Goldfinch by Connie Wanek

  1. Thank you Jan for sharing these beautiful words which are so profound esp. in light of the recent discovery of the 215 Indigenous children buried in B.C. (and so many more to be uncovered). Each small child’s worth in the eyes of heaven is as vast as the sky above the Vatican. Interesting comparison in light of this tragic history. A deeply moving poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is beautiful, Jan, thank you for sharing.
    It’s a glimmer! And you’ve helped me recognize that a glimmer holds real weight. There is, as you said, so much substance to those small things. I’m smiling. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A beautiful poem – especially to read out loud.
    I love the words: “…for peace is lodged deep / within the very / spacious thought of itself….”
    Thank you Jan. Love, Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would personally say not dream, but a place I know, I have experienced.
    It exists! That vast spaciousness – infinity by definition endless and where no though exists 🙂



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