I’m arranging the bird feeders
to tempt the brightest species.
The light in the kitchen window
suggests a simmer of warmth
inside, but the northern slant
of my outlook tempts me to burrow
in snow and spend the winter
parsing the shifts in horizon
as storm after storm exhales.
You’re feeding the cats the breast
of turkey you boiled last night.
Their articulations amuse you,
amuse us both, but beneath
their immaculate pelts the wild
plots thousands of years of revenge.
None of us should feel domestic
when pink dawn curdles the snow
and the shadows of pines tangle
in competing shades of gray.
For a moment, the ego blinks
and leaves me naked, unevolved
and shining in the fresh new light.
A cardinal clings to a suet cake
and cocks its gaze. Chickadees
snatch seed from a feeder still
in my hands. Nature and culture,
big words I learned when little,
lock horns so firmly they’ll starve
like the stags reduced to skeletons
I found rotting deep in the woods.
The kitchen glow beckons. Turning
to waddle indoors, I slip
on the brick-hard snow and fall,
upholstered by my terrycloth robe,
and lie for a moment staring up,
unhurt, at a sky so insolent
it looks about to laugh aloud.
William Doreski recently retired after years of teaching at Keene State College in New Hampshire (USA). His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.