the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Jack Ridl

Robins in January

Christ! The snow is deep.
Along the highways, the plows
have piled it mailbox high,
great gobs hardening

into yellow-gray ice. Worms
lie still beneath the freeze.
A thaw would only bare
the snow-wrapped branches.

The deer, feeling hunger's
cruel nag, have bitten off
the ivy winding up the trunks
of the beeches, are gnawing

the bark from the old trees,
chewing the twisted spindles
of the saplings. We watch
the robins, fluffed out as if

hulking in a tawdry muff.
We want to help.
The cats, their tails swishing,
sit twitching on the windowsill.

More snow is predicted for tonight.
An ancient map has always saved
the robins' lives. Did some blind
cell set off a discord in their mystery,

a disobedience to their helpless
primal clock and compass?
We have our breakfast. They sit.
The snow continues to fall.



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