The stocking feeder was an instant hit:
Birds came as soon as I suspended it
Above the deck that spring, and all agreed
Few venues offered such fine nyjer seed.
The feeder served, among its clientele,
The lesser goldfinches especially well.
It suited their small feet and sturdy bills
And acrobatic gastronomic skills.
They’d bound in from the canyon and alight
And feed side-angled, upside down, upright;
Some hung supine, defying vertigo,
Under (while pecking at) the stocking’s toe.
At moments, in their dense, aggressive flocking,
The finches utterly engulfed the stocking
And flapped wings to retain or gain afresh
Their purchase on its bulging nylon mesh.
I always, vigilant on their behalf,
Kept the seed level well above mid-calf
And came to hope that they regarded me
More as their friend than as a maître d’.
And when in fall they left for new pursuits,
I missed them and their chatter and disputes.
I felt pangs keener than I thought I would
The night I took the stocking down for good.
The hook where it had hung looked sad and stark,
Resembling an inverted question mark
That all but asked if it could be unscrewed
And spared the silence and the solitude.