The river masks its winter’s work
fixed by time to this specific place,
drops back into earth
banks stropped, opaque and hard.
Small clumps of ice,
herd of crystalline bones
or a bow-wave of frozen spume
white horses strobe-like,
alert in their stance.
There must be a bridge
somewhere, rope and wood
open to the wind, to the world
where I straddle this river,
then drop through the crust
to the warm cavern below
and the tiny dark-eyed junco
who says stay low to the ground.
She gives me a young stellar object,
an unfamiliar by-chance suffering,
and her best river reed.
Pick two she says and is gone.
is the reed tuned to matins—or attuned/atoned for suffering—will
the surface hold—will i return in spring—and where is the junco
now—how will i know when it’s night—night is an ocean—
saltwater won’t freeze but what about blood—i used to be buoyant,
used to—be—can i burrow down and still breathe—is there a way
in for fresh air—river roots—rocks—reeds—rapid heartbeat—
razor stropped—dropped down—
fragile bones hollow
tiny young junco—slate grey back
winter sky—is your winter’s work
a hide-and-seek—drifted in mounds
of seeds, a game of constant finding
Oh, fearless junco, how do you mourn
your dark-eyed dead?