The sandhill cranes insist
noisily that I come out
to gape at their typical touristy
ways, a squawking commentary
like rowdy spring-break teens
hailing the ancient trees and this
lovely lake. These crocuses
and the green shoots of daffodils
are too small for their high-flying eyes.
I could be mistaken. They vee
north where surely spring is still
too fragile to feed them, but
I’m frozen by this overstayer
winter so what do I know?
Like clockwork the buffleheads
arrive by their precise
reckoning. My yearly delights
follow a calendar far more
exact than this Gregorian compromise
that rules my days. Black and white
divers tease the water into rippling
sensuous shudders as they go under,
hundreds of them, a quick wiggle
to disappear into her mysteries.
She’ll be accepting snowfall
later today, to complicate this dance.
Such a trial for this hostess, plunging
temperatures forcing a cold
shoulder to guests only here
to kiss and make up
before the long trip,
boreal breeding grounds beckoning.
They won’t miss that flight,
their boarding passes etched
into their cells, and so I count
the thirty days slow and sweet
standing before this cold window
an essential piece of the living world