Just before the ritual begins, a space
Undissolved, where wings of survival scatter
In their wintered search. Birds shrill, desolate,
Entering like dampness into the bone.
Their cries ache with life as in gardens
Everywhere, each year, the universe dies.
Dying, the last gnat climbs a calm stepped air,
A stairway made from slabs of mist, closing in,
Surrounding his delicate ascent, jerky perhaps
But perfection to him, slipping occasionally
And then firming his grip – up again.
Under this sketchy geometric pattern, clawed
On the Earth’s rim, a cat takes what is given,
Hangs on to solitude and a morning gift-wrapped
In December’s grey skies. The year shuts its eye.
Vaporized rain pulls on to each deciduous tree
A glistening stocking, bulging with hope. Hovering
By the shoulders of oaks, stunting the tallness
Of tall pines, the soaked horizon closes in.
There is no feeling of trespass, only of entry,
A slow stealing, claiming back the stolen ground.
This holiday past; so quickly glint glad smiles of thanks, so soon loving laughter’s echo fades. Our lives enriched, memory’s imprint so deep to us, so impervious to tree bark or frozen earth. – mh