They must keep irregular hours,
so small they have to come in groups
near the feeder when the other birds
are away, and what a soft sound
they make, and the faint blush
from which they get their name,
as though they feel embarrassed
to be here at all, eating scraps
off the ground, their slight perfection
designed for a more tender world.
Copyright © 2022 by Jesse Graves. Excerpted from Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine, 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (Texas A&M University Press). All rights reserved. Jesse Graves is the author of four poetry collections, including Merciful Days, and a collection of essays, Said-Songs: Essays on Poetry and Place. His work received the James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South from the Fellowship of Southern Writers and two Weatherford Awards from Berea College. He teaches at East Tennessee State University, where he is poet-in-residence and professor of English.