City Golf Course, Late Winter
We walk an hour on pathways with our dog,
unmindful of the smog
and clamor in the nearby urban jungle,
an hour with hawks which hover with their ungual
feet to impale a squirrel
or snatch a bullfrog from the mud
when cool amphibian blood
quickens as ferns uncurl.
The mutt has spotted something fast and furry
and sprints. A bit of worry
shoots through us as he vanishes from sight.
Most likely famished, speeding through the bright
broad day, the fox consists
of no more than a scattered blaze
of red, like gauzy rays
that sift through far-off mists.
The dog comes loping back, his tongue so low,
it nearly laps the snow.
While on this date with maples, birches, pines,
we feel unfettered as the vibrant minds
of wrens in thickets clad
in ermine fur. Throughout the hour,
we’ve seen, not a single flower,
but a stonefly. Is it mad?
We wonder if it will or won’t survive
until the snowmelts rive
the ice dams from the river, if it knows
this pall of whiteness must come to a close,
as the cosmos, with its clocks
and worlds, will spread like urban sprawl,
then cool like tea and stall.
But not while we watch hawks.
(Appeared in Poetry Quaterly.)