Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Final Days of February

Two weeks ago, I saw the first one:
two-feet hopping in a yellow-cane yard
with its black nob head, its russet breast,
the white tuft at the rump.

"This is a fine reason to stay home."
The first robin of the season -
ritual needs space and greetings
require some silent divide.

Last night I wound open a slim
aluminum tray of oysters,
petite, smoked, heavily oiled

and ate every last one.

Temperatures fell to freezing
and the rain-soaked park greens
are sucking in the water today,
allowing for long walks, again.

I saw another robin there like
a game prop and then a grey
cat bird with its fat breast and
dimple eye, its matching silver beak.

I stopped and said "Hello"
to its attentive face, not sure who
was listening The bird trimmed itself,
looked at me from a new height

quizzical only a fierce second
before the preening began, again.
I walked on toward T Building,
my black jacket front held tight.

Two weeks ago, I first saw them:
loblolly and slash pines, their pull-back bark
without the red shine, stained
from a night of rainfall, they lay

barrel to barrel, end to end,
bark to bark, tree to tree
on the dank floor - the valley
of the interstate - logs with leaves.

Yellow machines, grunting hungry, silver
lips licking, slammed into the trees,
knocking them down crudely,
the blackened blades sliced

them at their heels, yellow shards
stand out, barren in the cold
February morning, their green limbs limp
against their long sides and each morning,

as their deaths become less shocking,
as the sap falls and the long-legged
victims turn into lumber and look less
like trees, as the cars drive by,

morning after morning above
the valley of the broken trees,
I look over the side, watching progress:
how today they came and pushed

debris into a neat pile and removed it.
Or how the sun turns green bramble
into golden pine needle, or how
the trees atrophy, lying alone

on their one side through night after
night of rain, through the chill of the final
February cold snap. We all talk about
the last days of winter, the radio

voices laugh broadly, displacing
the sight below, assuring us of sunshine.
Each day, the black holes shrink
under the yellow machine.

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