by Marybeth Cieplinski
Above open fields they dip and swoop
on a sweltering summer day with sun-blistered pavement
or a crisp fall afternoon with leaves drifting down.
Yellow and black streaks of color
as fast as June bugs,
as bright as the sunflower seeds they love,
singing out their roller-coaster joy,
searching for whatever food they can find.
Two, maybe three, times per summer the flailing young appear,
yellow gape wide, screaming
while harried parents rush to crack open seeds,
stuff the nutty kernels into ravenous maws.
Each season provides sustenance to the growing family.
In the Cuyahoga Valley, they flit year-round
in fields and forest edges,
alongside the river and marshes,
bright male plumage faded to mustard and gray in winter,
hardly distinguishable from their female mates until spring.
“Wild canaries” we called them as children.
The first sighting of sunflower yellow on wing tips
shows that spring is approaching.
The fields warm, sprout, expand, bloom,
and the song of the goldfinch
gladdens the ear again.
American BeaverKatie Daley
American BullfrogLaura Grace Weldon
American ChestnutCarrie George
American GoldfinchMarybeth Cieplinski
American Giant MillipedeMary Quade
American HornbeamJeff Gundy
American White WaterlilyGeoffry Polk
Artist’s BracketSusann Moeller
Banded Fishing SpiderCharlie Malone
Common Star-of-BethlehemBrita Alaburda
Common StonefliesKaren Schubert
Eastern ChipmunkNathan Kemp
Eastern Tent Caterpillar MothZachary Thomas
Eastern Red-backed SalamanderTovli Simiryan
Firefly BeetleJacquie Peoples Dukes
Gray CatbirdTheresa Brightman
Great MulleinLaurie Kincer
Green HeronPaula J. Lambert
Interrupted FernKathleen Cerveny
Meadow VoleRoberta Jupin
Monarch ButterflyDeborah Fleming
Pearl CrescentMonica Kaiser
Poison HemlockJon Conley
Red-Headed Ground BeetleBob King
Star JelliesCameron Gorman
Sugar MapleSteve Brightman
Turkey VultureLaura Grace Weldon
White-footed MouseMichelle Bissell
White-tailed DeerBenjamin Rhodes
Wild CarrotJessica Jones
Traveling Stanzas community arts projects bring poetry to people’s everyday lives through innovative methods and digital platforms.