Elizabeth Weber has published three collections of poetry, Small Mercies, The Burning House, and Porthole Views: Watercolors and Poems (a collaboration with artist Hazel Stoeckeler). Her poems and essays have appeared in many publications. Weber has taught at Western New Mexico University, New Mexico State University, the University of Nebraska, and is a retired professor emerita from the University of Indianapolis, where she taught creative writing. She now lives in St. Paul, MN, her hometown.
I’ve known the insatiable desire of finches
frantic in their love of thistle.
Pushing and shoving for position,
their sleek gold and black feathered bodies
bristle intensely at the feeder under the tulip tree,
their tongues busily at work
threading out seeds, discarding
the less than perfect.
Nothing will placate their longing for more.
And I have seen the hunger of day lilies in June.
Orange mouths open as if they
would devour the sun whole, stretching
their necks as far as they can
from their spiky green bodies, relentless
in their longing to inherit the earth.
What language does the horsefly speak
as it bumbles through its short life
wrangling meals off the backs of cows
and horses? It’s just a smudge in the air.
Or the maple with its thousand-tongued
branches moved by wind and rain,
what dark language does it spell
to the beetles and worms
burrowing their way down into the earth?
As a child I caught tiger salamanders
dug deep and sleeping in mud-filled window wells
where they hunkered safe from crows and snakes.
I held their slick, wiggling bodies
black as skies dusted with yellow stars
in my hands and felt their bellies
balloon delicate against my skin
and stared into those unblinking eyes
cold as rivers with no bottoms visible.