The Small Winter

I refuse to wear a coat in the small winter,
After ice and snow have blasted their last trail
And left behind scarred refugees of field and sky,
An invalid sun still too weak to reach
The last ghettos of cold:
That chill in the garage as the door lifts to daylight,
A walk on a trail that briefly dips through shade
Into lingering air from the past dead months,
Those identical short dark days
When bird calls went off like sniper fire.

But now green constellations burst in the brown,
And the horizon burns longer before night.
The barking of dogs sounds sharper,
Less like humans calling in despair.
The skin on my arms still puckers slightly
As I pile blankets back in the closet,
But my screen door opens wide
To a rebel wind inciting the bare trees,
The bright attack of a cardinal,
Red crest raised high above the patio floor.

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