Midwinter birds have grown loud and churlish in the bush behind the old man’s house, arguing in their way, aware that the chill is not what it should be, I think. A limb shakes just a little, this faded blue-green of a desert juniper somewhat beyond its prime and in need of a good shaving, but the birds are well hidden, warrens like holes in the earth somewhere below. It has been gray as slate and bleak, but today the sun has come, and it has gotten a bit colder, though still no frigid day as January might promise. The mountains, highlighted in an almost supernatural clarity, seem as if they are the holy icon in a picture from the Renaissance, they the haloed might of the world, and if I could paint them for you, you still would not believe, and I don’t have my camera with me, so I can’t prove any of this, standing in the shadow of the old man’s house with the lull in afternoon traffic letting me almost hear the sound of the slim breeze, almost hear things half forgotten.
I become distracted, concerning myself with snowfall levels and possible recursions into drought. Idle fingers probe my jacket pockets, finding the remnants of cough drops from years past, spare change, receipts for nothing that could be deducted on the tax forms. Across the street, a boy hoists up his kick-powered scooter and peers forlornly at the front wheel. He puts the device over his shoulder and walks around a corner, beyond my view. I consider an old bicycle in my own youth, how it would make pleasing skid marks when you backpedaled and engaged the rear brake at speed. I consider the names I would give to pet cats I wish I had. The day seems stopped, but I know that is a lie, for don’t all days seem stopped, and yet another birthday always seems to steam toward us out of the shroud at full throttle? This long weekend is soon to fade, and then there will be work, and meals and necessary sleeping, and all the little polyrhythms that keep us dancing down the line, ever further into these half examined lives.
these birds of the midwinter
all squawk and chatter
White crested mountains
haloed majesty of earth
favorite of the sun
Cold brings remembrance
lives once lived, bicycles of
youth and other dreams
That which seems to stop
is yet hurdling outward
toward unguessed seasons.
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