In January, day breaks like stone
splitting from stone.
I’m consoled by the red head
of the red-bellied woodpecker,
flashing like an ambulance
among the drab, ravenous sparrows.
Later, driving on Old River Road,
I’m startled to see two great blue herons
paused on islands of ice
amid black pools of open water—
the winter order shaken.
I want to pull over, but it seems
a little reckless, or just odd,
to brake for herons along a snowbank.
On my life list
is the indigo bunting,
seen once in a summer long past.
against the blue gem of its body,
on a wire above a vacant lot,
a sign of not a thing.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 41 Number 2, on page 36
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