Near Winter

The shadow of a bird

perches on the shadow of a branch

stretching across my glossy oak floor.

We are near December

and we feel ourselves between

the give and take of the season,

between the wind-surge that riles the trees

and the simmering of the afternoon sun.

The jay's shadow-crown is ruffled.

His tail pinions dip and snap back like a baton.

The black staves of the shadow birch

lurch, leap and, finally, still.

And then

I see him in the center of the floor:

his shadow-head like a rain cloud

or a barren mound, his black pen prodding

shadow-words across the oak-dark page.

Observed and observer, we stare, a standoff,

as the evening settles like dust in the room.

I'm waiting to see what the shadow will do.

He's waiting in hopes I will make

the first move.

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