By Julie Cadwallader Staub

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” —Lao-Tzu

Goldfinches bounce through the summertime heat
landing on branches up high by the creek
lilting to goldenrod, asters that bend
then tilting and gliding and settling again.

Just a silent, soft touch of belly to breeze
and they’re off, disappearing—a flash in the trees—
each one a half ounce of jet black and pure gold
shadows and secrets too heavy to hold.

There’s no status to chase, no need for disguise
they defeat anonymity with each dip and rise.
Watch them dash off, without hesitation or fear,
their lighthearted signature in the limitless air.

This poem appeared in the California Quarterly in their Spring 2023 issue.

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