Goldfinch in snow

Two Poems by Matthew Thorburn

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First Light

A pair of goldfinches huddle
at the feeder. Drab yellow; first
you’ve seen this year. They peck

at the thistle seeds you brought out
in a coffee can. Tail-end of winter,
you think, but morning’s busy laying out

a fresh sheet of snow, filling up
your footprints, covering the few shell-shucks
scattered across the snow like commas.

On the one fruit tree in the yard
beads of ice dangle from each branch,
and inside the beads red berries

have hung on since summer and glow
in the morning light like hearts.
Even so, it’s so early. Why are you here?

I’m not you, Bob, but still I want to hurry
this along, get you back inside
to where that woman sleeps, her arm

stretched across the space you were—
back to that dark room, bootless now,
your hair still white on top with snow.




Thirty-Two Years

      July afternoon—
Lily’s tongue
      the color of her snow cone.

      Sunlight warms
the black cars
      in the cemetery.

Window-shopping in Osaka—
      hard to believe
you once lived here, Buson.

      In the zinnias,
the hummingbird’s
      on a bender.

      Moonlight on the river—
Thirty-two years and still
      I don’t know how to say it.

      Looking back
across the field—
      our footprints filled with water.





Matthew Thorburn’s first book is Subject to Change (New Issues, 2004). More recent work has appeared in Paris Review and Pool.

Header photo by Mike Goad, courtesy Pixabay. is the first online literary journal of place, publishing award-winning literature, art, editorials, and community case studies since 1998.