February Report From the North

Icicles fringe the woodpile.

Roads are sheeted by ice

like a rink, no path safe

under the masking snow.

The ancient grapes I put out

are instantly amethysts,

our familiar black squirrel

gnaws them like nuts.

Last year's marigolds

bloomed through November,

never got yanked

from the hardening soil.

Still they hang over snow.

The yellow-tinged tips

of long, thin seeds

squirrels and birds ignore.

Seeds must hint of hope.

But this frozen season

we cannot trust any

cliches of change

out there - or, numbed

by our old disappointments -

promises from ourselves.

We tug our coats tighter,

like the squirrel his tail

flattened over his spine.

We think: garden blazing

yellow and orange,

vineyards fragrant

with purple and green.

We bend our heads to the wind,

shuffle into another blizzard,

chatter and scratch to keep warm.

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