Twenty Eight

Birds Punctuate the Days
        -- Joyce Clement

the nuthatch inserts itself
between feeder and pole
two mallards drifting
one dunks for a snail

a mourning dove
lifts off
a red-eyed vireo catches
the crane fly midair
a down feather
bobs between waves
exclamation point
wren on the railing
takes notice
mergansers paddle toward
morning trout swirl
em dash
at dusk a wild goose
heading east
question mark
the length of silence
after a loon’s call
one blue egg all summer long
now gone

the new cat shares my despair

the new black cat sits
waiting in the window for
the backyard to wake

for a week he hid
behind the furnace, afraid
of our sure attack

on the basement floor
the cold rose in me. I cried
flesh and bones melting

in February's
glacier. He will never love
us, I said. But at

last he crept out, lured
by a dancing string, by our
relentless use of

his new name, our song
of despair, and arched his back 
to my hand, answered

me with small cries like 
thin bells, rough chirps, complete 

and now we are bound
by a wild need for touch
our darkest fears of 

being truly seen
solitary confinement
and abandonment

together we watch 
an old world stream past the glass
variations on 

a theme: winter's siege 
finally cracking, icy
rain's indifference, how 

it falls and falls on
a gray world, melting dirt down
into wormy blood

Suggested soundtrack: Robins.