Hideous Statuettes

The Robin’s call learned as a child:

            Cheer-up, Cheer-up, Cheer-up

Sounds so right; so sweet heralding the mud and shoots of spring
Today sounds nervous and confused as it falls bleakly over the frozen river.
They flit and perch in the trees jabbering in concerned confusion as the ice works inexorably from both banks-soon to overtake the small sliver of green in the middle.

           Cheer-up, Cheer-up, Cheer-up

Bright red breasts ornament the bare branches
Weeks after the decorations have been put away
None will brave the snow on the ground.
Hopefully they are not waiting-they can’t wait it out can they?
It’s 14 degrees up from 11 heading to five
Hopefully they are moving on-but to where and from where?

         Cheer-up, Cheer-up, Cheer-up

Perhaps tomorrow they’ll all be dead
Ragged and black like spent shell casings
Or singed shelter halves
Frozen and tossed in the snow.

        Cheer-up, Cheer-up, Cheer-up

Yesterday morning in the gray dawn
A dove tried to fly from a line in the yard.
As it rose a Cooper’s Hawk-from nowhere
Blasted it in a puff of dark feathers.

Later the snow fell,
Covering the scattered feathers and tiny crimson splat that fell to earth

Blue Bird in the Barn

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He was careful on the path down to the barn. The first snowfall-not yet finished-had made it slick and he had somehow forgotten his cane back on the porch.

Inside, the cows milled about desultorily eating the hay he had pulled down from the loft earlier. He loosened his collar a bit to suck in some of the damp warmth from their breath when he heard the unmistakable song of a blue bird. He scanned the rafters and immediately picked him out from the stray, gray sparrows and wrens that flitted about the place.

“What you do, little guy?” he asked aloud. “Miss the last train south?”

Up at the house he left his boots inside the door and peeled off his old coat. The glow of the television leaked out of the living room in back. There his wife sat in the chair that the medical company had sent over-the one that would help her get up and down.

“Saw a bluebird in the barn”, he told her speaking loudly.

“Oh?” she answered. “He shouldn’t be here now, should he?”

“Guess the weather had him confused. Now he’s stuck I guess.”

“Bluebird in the barn”, she said almost to herself in a sing-song childish way. Then, “I wisht I could see him.”

He glanced at the mute aluminum frame of her walker. “You’ll see him and plenty more in the spring. We’ll have them all over the place…”

She said nothing more, just looked out the window where the snow still fell and it was night-dark at suppertime.

The next day dawned bright and cold. He made his way unsteadily down the hill relying overmuch, he thought, on the cane he clutched firmly. He was kicking away snow from the sweep of the barn door when he saw the small splash of blue over by the trough. He walked over and scooped up the dead bird and a little puff of snow besides. It wasn’t cat-mauled or damaged at all. Just dead.

He didn’t realize he was crying until a heavy tear spattered on the tiny blue head.

“Fuck.” he whispered, chilled at using a word that hadn’t passed his lips since Korea.

 

 

Radio Silence

Radio Silence

When the wind died

He could feel the silence

Pressing.

There had to be a hawk.

Birds were down-

Huddled, gone;

Death in sight.

Silence has its own sound:

Thick winter water

Trickling over pebbles

Under a shell of ice.

Cold trees cracking, breathing.

The lazy wash of his own blood

Coursing, flowing

For the time being.