A Soft Lamenting

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.