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.


Winter Harvest

rabbit-in-winter-outdoorlife-comA Poem for the Sixth Day of Lent

What moves beneath the snow on this still night?
What quivers in the moonlight? Some brash
rabbit seeking vegetation that has managed to
survive the killing frost? Trees are brittle, Mr.
Rabbit, and the leaves are dead. You’d better seek
your den and save your energy for spring. The
cats are on the prowl tonight, and hawks wait

But the rabbit is resourceful. There are frozen
berries, sparse among the shrubs, and tender
bark if one knows where to look. A clever rabbit
can live by his wits till spring comes with her
banquet of delights. Now we do the things we
must—a meager harvest is superior to none—
while even now, through winter’s long, cold
night, the earth prepares to greet the sun.