When the cardinal called out –
his song like drops of light spilling over a dawn field –
I ran outside
that first day of his voice
as Spring’s soft sun
opened the heart of the brisk, grey winds
I ran to answer him
at the tender, naked garden
after months of snow
the smell of earth
rising to meet the bird’s song.
All winter the lawn has loafed
under its thick white quilt
and wakes in April, tousle-headed,
crusty-edged, and with the freshest shoots of weeds
curled cheekily in its damp, bare places.
Afternoon sun, a stiff rake,
and the layabout sits, chastened,
scrubbed and alert:
waiting to don a new green suit.
March lies covered under thick snow.
Brown leaves have clung all winter to the stunted oak,
rustling loudly as bitter wind drives
across the tundra of the yard. They will fall in spring.
Any day now, by the calendar.
The hare’s prints trace her hunt
for any not-yet-gnawed shoots above the waist-deep drifts.
We all hunt for the sun.
Then the magicians arrive, chickadees
and cardinals spreading their voices
over the iced-in world, pulling a slow change
from beyond the edges, their wondrous notes
unfurling the small silk squares of colour
the cold winter rolled tightly around our hearts.