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In Winter’s Time

Do the Chickadees Have Large Talons?


A Poem for the Eighth Day of Lent

Listen to the nuthatch, to the titmouse and the chickadee.
Even as the branch that bears them aches beneath its frigid load
of ice and snow, the birds are brazen, will not be deterred.
They know the time has come to sing their waning-winter song.
Full-throated, lustily they screech: Chee-chee! Chee-chee! Chee-chee!
The light has changed. The days are longer; now the sun draws closer
to the earth, glows more benignly, as it nears the equinox.

Birdbrain, do you scoff? And yet they know what you do not:
that creatures in their subterranean retreats are stirring,
seeds are swelling, ice is thinning on the lakes and streams,
the darkness shortens. Still the earth will not be hurried;
it awakens when it ought to, languid in its movements
till the sun returns, sap rises, leaves burst forth. Be patient.
Spring will come when all of winter’s lessons have been learned.


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