with his immaculate bib, sooty jacket,
bobs in the snow for sunflower seeds.
Caught between two needs, hunger and shelter,
he keeps coming back, even as the arctic wind
which has howled all day shuttles him
like the cock in a badminton game,
wind that rattles the windows, shakes the house,
and blows the snow in great sheets across the yard.
But here he is again, charcoal wings beating hard,
as he skids off the barbecue lid, comes in for another
landing. What comes back? Memory and desire,
my grandmother, long gone, the empty rooms
in my parents’ house, voices of friends
beyond the reach of wires, white thread in a bobbin,
a chain of stitching, the line of waves along the shore.
Fugue and variations, the wind’s refrain.
Snow, folding back on itself, warping
and woofing the scarf of the storm.
From Line Dance (Word Press, 2008.
This poem first appeared in published in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Used here with the author’s permission.