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Since April is National Poetry Month, I’m taking a break this week from Beatrice Allen Page’s Landscape With Figures to post one of her poems. Because so many people groan when knowing they’ve got to read poetry, I’ve chosen a very simple poem. Utterly accessible, this piece I adore because it puts in my mind’s eye the memory of her feeding chickadees out of her hand at her window like Cinderfrigginrella.

Four Ways To Eat a Sunflower Seed


Come early in the morning to avoid the crowd.

Even though you have the place to yourself,

approach the board with mannerly restraint,

toying with a seed or two

and cheeping your pleasure politely

before actually starting to eat.

Then chumble each seed daintily,

letting the husk split and fall

From your bill unobtrusively.

Just a few seeds will suffice

for your delicate appetite.

Blue Jay

Swoop down on the feeder with an indignant shriek:

The food is terrible but, after all, you have to live.

Grab a seed with gluttonous haste

and hammer it open on the spot

as if it were something you had to kill

before it stung you.

Or, if you’re afraid of interference,

just swallow the seeds whole

without bothering to hull them.

And if another habitue tries to join you,

attack promptly, screaming: “Mine!”


Foregather with a little band of boon companions

in the trees close to the window.

As soon as it opens, dart

onto the outstretched hand that holds the seeds.

Pick one out with the deft assurance

of a connoisseur and fly with it to a nearby branch

where you can hold it between your feet

while you crack it open.

After you have finished the tasty tidbit,

wipe your bill neatly, once on each side, against a twig,

and fly back to the waiting hand for another seed.


Come crashing down in a free fall

from a branch high above.

Then make yourself thoroughly at home

sitting on your haunches,

holding the seeds between your paws to eat,

and eyeing the woman on the other side of the window

with mild interest.

But if she dares to make any kind of threatening gesture,

stare her down for her presumption

and continue eating till you have gorged yourself

and stripped the feeder bare.