for Keith and Jen

Friends I am here to modestly report
seeing in an orchard
in my town
a goldfinch kissing
a sunflower
again and again
dangling upside down
by its tiny claws
steadying itself by snapping open
like an old-timey fan
its wings
again and again,
until, swooning, it tumbled off
and swooped back to the very same perch,
where the sunflower curled its giant
swirling of seeds
around the bird and leaned back
to admire the soft wind
nudging the bird's plumage,
and friends I could see
the points on the flower's stately crown
soften and curl inward
as it almost indiscernibly lifted
the food of its body
to the bird's nuzzling mouth
whose fervor
I could hear from
oh 20 or 30 feet away
and see from the tiny hulls
that sailed from their
good racket,
which good racket, I have to say
was making me blush,
and rock up on my tippy-toes,
and just barely purse my lips
with what I realize now
was being, simply, glad,
which such love,
if we let it,
makes us feel.

Note to Poetry Out Loud students: This poem begins with an epigraph that must be recited. Omitting the epigraph will affect your accuracy score.
Notes:

POL Participants: we fixed a typo on January 12, 2016, in line 33: "was making my blush" was corrected to "was making me blush". The student may recite either version for the 2016-7 competition.

  • Ross Gay, "Wedding Poem" from Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. Copyright © 2015 by Ross Gay.  Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

  • Source: Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I found it especially rewarding to see how positively each student embraced the total experience. Clearly they were having a great time and one that would last a lifetime!"
Alison Schaeffler-Murphy
FL POL Coordinator