Mid-January and winter has arrived at last.
The branches droop beneath the snow of two
Storms. No bird has sung for us in days.
I have read of winters so cold, so long,
The birds fell like leaves from the trees.
Always war is raging nearby or the smoke
Of the crematorium has smeared the snow,
Like a gray, vague, indecipherable rubbing.
No bird in my backyard falls from a branch
That doesn't catch the air beneath its wings
And swoop off into the wind with a kind
Of triumph. I have never been shot at either.
Yet, in the next county, a man
Was dismembered and his body parts used
In a ritual with no better purpose than
The resurrection of some long dead devil.
Not forty miles from here, a girl of sixteen
Was hog-tied and set on fire by two brothers
Who confessed she had teased them with her
Body. One brother accused the other
Of dancing to the rhythm of her screams.
Each day, I watch the birds. This morning,
A cardinal sits hunched on a limb --
As if I'd mistake him for a bloody fist.