by Josh Ekroy

In my family there were always plenty of goldfinches.
Ma had to hire a man to disinfect
behind the hockey prints. Nevertheless,
we took turns feeding them with praise.
Washing the goldfinches was like giving birth:
first you must wipe them with a damp cloth;
then they are dried on Japanese rice paper.
I had a goldfinch once which I bought from the butcher.
It turned a mouldy green so I knew
that there were real goldfinches such as the ones
my family had acquired in a principled way
and then there were fake which existed in the world.
My brothers knew more about goldfinches than I did
and would never impart the secrets of their brood
in case a burglar broke in and forced me to unleash
the secrets. Whenever I saw goldfinches
in sycamore trees I knew I would win
but goldfinches got tangled in the conversation
at meal-times. Uncle Paul said their song patterns
were proof that the earth was round like a coin.
Ma refused to talk about it and you could tell
she was thinking about gravitational pull
which crackled her nerves. The rise of Mussolini,
Pa said, was caused by goldfinches. Nobody knew how many
goldfinches Pa had and sometimes he was absent
for long periods, making his goldfinch arrangements.