My 40th Winter on Earth

Because the clouds were pulling apart, I thought I’d walk
to work today. Three miles along the Jordan River in Taylorsville
through narrow stretches of park and wetland.

The water was slow and green.
Buffleheads crossed from bank to bank with their mates.
Mergansers with copper Mohawks, drift down stream into the rocks.

Black-eyed juncos gather in the stick-figure shrubs
their tails like three piano keys: white, black, white.
Redwings rise from the birch trees to carry their roses

across the half frozen pond, and I am 25 again
walking along the Snake River in Lewiston, the Sibly’s Guide
to North American Birds open in my hands, sounding

the new names to myself. Each syllable is like a new wine
a fresh puff of smoke. Their notes are still the same notes,
only played in a slightly minor key.

And this time the melody is not meant for me.
It comes, somehow
from me.


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