I’m on the winter trail
plodding forward with aching feet
blinded by sharp sunlight
on endless snow,
alone with my burden.
The lake offers no relief.
Its frozen water mocks my thirst.
Every part of me longs for spring.
I tell myself the lies of the lonely
Imagining that someone, anyone
might slog along with me,
and ease the thick links
of this heavy chain
from my bent shoulders.
By my own reckoning,
my sorrow is so cumbersome,
you will flee from me,
I hear the cardinals before I see them, loitering in wineberry vines coated white from the evening storm. I wonder if they’re speaking to me, their lilting voices muted by the fresh snow. I count three, moving through my yard like bright fire.
The sky lightens as I push piles of snow from the platform feeder and replenish the seed. When I walk away, the birds come. Their chatter ripples through the trees, a gentle wave.
I’ll name them all before I go inside, letting them know I see them, telling them to take the proffered food.
Dark eyed juncos (my little penguins), house finches, mourning doves, blue jays, one hairy woodpecker and one downy, white-throated sparrows with their sweet, plaintive song, the Carolina wren who loves the suet, a passing flock of red-winged blackbirds (easily startled), black-capped chickadees (small and bold).
Yesterday, a sharp-shinned hawk perched outside my window, its fierce eyes trained on the sparrows. As I watched, it let out a lonely, piercing cry that I’m sure was meant for me.