Close of Winter

(for Bernice Leibold)

We work so hard keeping winter out

we rarely see

how much winter we're,

resolutely, keeping in.

How long has it been

since I cleaned the feeder,

poured out new seed,

filled the stone basin with water,

then set myself, still, on the sofa --

to write, to read, to watch, to listen?

It happens so subtly, the mind is deceived.

The steely gray web of the dogwood tree,

so bare, the light, the eye,

seem to pass through toward sky without resting.

Suddenly, a red flicker in the far corner.

A blue spark. Another.

And before my eyes, the branches

breathe, shimmer, come to life,

crowded now with beating wings.

Titmouse, junco, cardinal, wren, finch.

Millet shooting like stars from the perch,

sparrows prowling the earth beneath

to snatch up the scatterlings.

After half an hour

I fetch notebook and pen.

The fresh page is blindingly white

in the low sun.

How late? How long has it been?

I am slow, sorry,

but I begin again.

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