A Poem for Emerson Stamps

The poem below was written by Anne Rogers to honor Emerson Stamps, a widely beloved and long-term member of First Church before he passed away in 2016.  It was published in Plainsongs literary journal (Summer 2018) as a Plainsongs Award Poem.

Emerson Stamps.jpg



Right outside my window, 

a cardinal perches on top of the pole

from which the suet cage dangles,

his feathers a deep and brilliant red

against the sun-lit leaves. 

He watches a small black and white woodpecker

with a vivid red dot on the back of his head  

land on the cage, wrap his toes around the wire.

This scene would have delighted Emerson. 

I think of him every time I see birds, 

especially the juncos.

The first time he saw them in my yard,

so many they made a teeming rippling carpet 

of white birds with grey coats,

hopping every which way on the lawn,

he laughed out loud and grabbed my arm, 

pulled me to the window to see them,

saying over and over, "Look, look, those are juncos!"

The page about juncos is now well-worn in the book 

about birds he gave me before he died last summer.

Did he cherish them so because          

they managed to thrive even though,

unlike the cardinal, unlike the woodpecker,  

they were small and plain?

Or was it because those juncos survived and multiplied, 

despite hawks and feral cats?

As he had, despite the wreck that killed his brother,

despite the bullets on D-Day.

Or perhaps it was because they lived

with such gusto and seeming joy,

just as he had, though a grandson of slaves.


Anne Rogers