After my burgundy and yellow zinnias burst
into bloom, goldfinches grasp stems to pluck
petals, one by one, “she loves me, she loves
me not.” When I spy the marauders denuding
flowers planted to attract butterflies, I dash out
the back door, scattering birds to the sky.
They tweet their alarm, “oh you, oh you!”
I cannot fathom a reason for their destruction,
patrol the garden periodically, prepared
to defend my beauties, visited
by nectaring tiger and zebra swallowtails.
I clip damaged pocked heads, but the finches move
on to the next flowers, continuing their pecking.
One day from a window, I discover
what the birds are seeking, watch them yank
wispy seeds with their beaks and swallow.
I stop chasing the thieves, let bare
flowers remain. As I pull a flimsy strand
from a tight rust-colored head, I find
at the end a shiny white transparent sheath,
shaped like a shield, encasing a tiny dark seed,
spirit food for butterflies, bees and birds.
Poem by Anne Randolph
Writing in and about nature is Anne’s passion as well as land preservation. She lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and has won several awards for her poetry. Journals that have published her work include: The Comstock Review, Snowy Egret, Cloudbank, Iconoclast, Plainsongs, and The Listening Eye, among others. Her chapbook, Growing in Light, was published in 2018.