over river where the birds land slowly on trees—
an aviary cloud, drowning branches in noise
and winged pattern, decorating the season
with black beak and eye. I thought
I saw in the morning twigs white with ice
the vacant sound of winter, earth fraught
with the death of small things, but wide
wood stood brown, alive. I opened my palms
to touch leaves, the train track cleaned,
saw vast fields bearing evidence of a storm
full of rain and wind. The engine screamed
through a town of four hundred asleep,
waiting for the slow Midwest winter to release
My doorstep in Missouri is coated with
crooked foliage blown by a careless breeze.
Long months of cool air and autumn mist,
far removed from the winter in the Northeast,
where childhood was spent in hot wool socks,
punctuated by ice falling from the roof.
In the Heartland forest, I spot deer tracks
by the forgotten bicycle trail, and I stoop
to collect small winter flowers under the bridge.
Birds fly south yet find home in branches
near my apartment, as they group and hinge
around their tired, old, deciduous camp.
Wingéd flurry fall with winter sparrow,
but my heart will always keep the snow