Winter Sketch

Leaf carried

left. Brittle-cold grass, where I want to insert

first the asphalt, first the rain

thawing on the brick. Silence unfolds

its loud mutterings.

Pierced by a cry. Black bird,

yellowed beak. Not pierced,

threaded. Bird finds the grain

of the still air, slips a voice through

and between the layers. First sees

the layers. Soon the instant

when the falling water is only

what falls from branches, edge of

gutter, off the leaves.

Taps on the hard grass.

New silence after

this one. I plucked a smooth

green needle from a low-hanging off-shoot,

the branch leaning in to me as if to hear

more clearly. Pulled bowstring.

The needle: flexed it between two fingers,

folding it in half. Pressed it between two teeth,

convex side down, flattening its slight

curvature. I would have closed my eyes

to do it more carefully.