We wake, if we ever wake at all, to mystery, rumors of death, beauty, violence . . .
– Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
This is the hard time. Days grow longer, true, but the light is frail.
Puddles, skinned in ice, press last year’s leaves under glass, and mud.
In the field, I mistake a deer hide, jumbled in the grass, for a dirty wet flannel shirt. It still looks fresh, the blood still red, from a November kill.
Shadows of things are white with frost, instead of black, inverted. They shy from the sun, scooting around shrubs and cedars, like Winter’s children behind their mother’s skirt.
Steam burns off the fence rails when the sun comes up. Everything is on fire. By afternoon, though, the flame sputters and goes out. Months yet to go before spring.