This winter’s day


You do not have the flu.
The cat is not sick, nor the dog lost.
The bitter cold has not burst the pipes.
The firewood is dry enough to catch the perfect flame
thrown by the ordinary wonder of a rough-struck match.

The small, wild things — plumed, delicate —
fly hollow-boned to the feeders you have filled,
harvest the seed-scattered deck you have cleared.
Drink from the heated bath, ringed by ice.

Two degrees at daybreak.  Brittle and beautiful.

The deer mouths grain from a clearing in the snow,
her face flecked with frost,
the coarse, thick coat encircling her graceful body
and likely another:  this spring’s fawn
who might be born on a day
you cannot imagine

and rise on spindly legs to nurse,
and grow strong and sturdy beside this doe.
And return next winter, face flecked with frost,
swaddled in her coarse, thick yearling’s coat,
mouthing grain from a clearing in the snow.

Or — on a day you cannot imagine —
die in her mother’s womb.
Or be taken by a mountain lion.
Or a bear.  Or a car.  Or a mystery.

On a day you cannot imagine
you will not be able to shovel snow
or fill feeders, or offer grain.
Or be dazzled by the red nape
of a woodpecker’s neck,
or the dark geometry of shapes
cut on a bright blanket by the winter sun.

Already you are not what you were,
but — this is important — not yet what you will be.
And no one you love is dying, on this day.

On this day, you can still do;
you can still declare beauty
between sorrows.
On this winter’s day.




  1. What a beautiful reminder to stay present. Gorgeous imagery!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jane; I’m so pleased you liked it.
      Stay warm, friend; I’m sure glad I can offer the hens heat from those radiators yet again. The old girls, especially, appreciate it.


  2. What a wonderful poem, Cate. A gentle reminder to be grateful for the beauty that is with a realistic knowledge of what could be as life cycles as it always has. Stay warm. I love the images you create of your beautiful wildlife. -Russ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Russ! I’m fortunate to live in a foothills neighborhood without much traffic, and also near open space, so wildlife is quite comfortable here. I so enjoy the many encounters!

      Liked by 1 person

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