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Monday, April 18, 2011

Number 129: Susan Meyers " Hat of Many Goldfinches"

Hat of Many Goldfinches

Say you could wear twenty goldfinches on your head,
ten females in their soft, modest plumage
and ten bright males.
What jubilation,
all that twittering and hopping about.
Little feet massaging your scalp, little beaks
perchicoreeing to everyone you pass.
No need for ribbons
or veils on your black and yellow nest
of excitement, your curious crown of animation.

But how to seduce the finches to stay. A sprinkle
of thistle in your hair might hold them
long enough for you to kneel
at the altar of morning.
Gives you goose bumps
to feel the beaks tapping against your skin.
Walking down noon's aisle, you nod
and they shift a little.
More shuffling,
and the hat is rearranged. Take your photo,
or look in the mirror, and the hat you see there
is another, not the same hat you wear now.

Never depend on a hat of goldfinches
to bore you.
And forget the hatbox. These hats rest in sweet gums
and maples, on a narrow shelving of limbs.

I once knew a woman who wore her robin hat
when the finches wouldn't come. But the hat was heavy
and the brown depressed her.
She stayed home that morning,
her hair crawling with worms. The day she wore her
bluebird hat the bugs bothered her breathing,
the smallest attracted to the wind of her nostrils.

Now she knows to wait
for the finches. As long as there are finches,
there's a dream of a hat of finches—
the hat
we all want to wear on the day we die.
Imagine your own last dimming, its perfect
orchestration: final breath, pause,
a sudden fluttering
and lifting of forty somber wings.

-- Susan Meyers

Hap Notes: I don't know much about Susan Meyers other than she lives in South Carolina, has won numerous poetry awards and is the author of Keep and Giveaway, a delightful collection of her wonderful poems. She has an MFA from Queens University in Charlotte.

Monday has this glum reputation and I suppose there's good reason for it what with corporate America grinding out more junk and we all get to participate in its machinations whether we want to or not. So for my Mondays (and the glumness doesn't always deposit its silt there- so many days to choose from!) I read poems that fill me with reverent glee, that lift my spirits, and "Hat of Many Goldfinches" is on the top of my list. Of course, I am a bird lover, too.

There's more to this poem that just hatty charm, though. There's something very right in the phrase "a sudden fluttering /and lifting of forty somber wings" to describe the breathtaking and sudden sad grace of death. The poem is equally whimsical and reverent- now there's a fine hat trick.

We will do more Meyers this year, I think.

Here's a great quote from Meyers: "Poetry helps me to make meaning of life. I’m drawn to its compression—the engagement with language, rhythm and sound."

You can read the whole interview here:

You can find her blog and more of her incandescent poetry here:

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