These days are cold, and crisp, footsteps
fade behind me dusted with snow.
Ahead is a canvas of white,
untouched and untrodden, that waits
or not for the fleeting traces
of boot and paw to mark my passing.
Upon a light barked limb of birch
a sparrow and a robin perch.
The robin shifts, the sparrow cries,
tilts his head, takes stock, then flies.
From an oak not far away
comes a bluebird and a jay.
The bluebird there to poach a nest,
the jay, simply to taunt and test.
The robin ready to give song,
protests briefly, moves along.
While hidden in the leaves above,
caws a raven, coos a dove.
I saw my shadow in the light of a low sun.
It appeared a great thing
covering miles of grass.
My eyes filled with tears
and I lost myself to wonder.
In the absence of perspective
I thought the ground a mirror.
No idiot gods or platonic blackbirds
just solid stone and old shoes—
another walk to work.
The sky is the gray
it’ll stay all January,
the cold, slow to arrive.
There are barges on the river
long arms, cranes
to lift stuff up.
Today I tried to count them,
the bridges repaired
the buildings born,
the union men
smoking in circles—
too many for the task.
It all seems so normal
till you look up
and the sun itself
is dwarfed by structure—
magic works of man.
It’s not irreducible—
birth, death, the stuff in the middle,
the fluff we focus on, the touches ignored.
I hope to burn some day and feel it
then be lifted by air.
In the gray now a man tries to remember
head pressed to a window
he pulls a finger down fog
deer run in the distance
through a slit between breathes
before the close, a hint of color
the flight of a finch, or a leaf mid-turn
The park that sold this house
is still there outside my window.
Our kids are grown,
but that patch of ground is never empty.
Each year supplies a new face or two
bold enough to approach our joke of a fence
and greet the great beasts that are their silent protectors,
the latest generation to walk the failing pickets and watch.
Lights line the river on both sides,
the air is tourist cold, comfortable.
A late boat arrives to chase away
a daring bit of darkness.
I stop to fix my hat
then continue on my way.
Pluck the fruit of summer labor
before first frost
and crows claim corn.
Give over sleep
for one short season
and face the winter full.
A tower stands among a fist of smaller structures,
middle finger to the sky—
Man’s “I am” answer to the world,
set against a lake and manipulated river,
immune to the wind.
What bold madness moves our hands
and drives our actions?
Surely there is no need,
no evolutionary imperative—
This is pride, pure and magnificent,
a child’s name carved in a tree.
Let the earth reject geometry,
let her bear our straight-line scars
and structured insults—
let her send her vines of promised reclamation.
We all know how this ends,
but by God, we are here.