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2008 01 01
A Red Bird in Winter
image

During the long night of winter the city pauses, midway between dark and day. It goes on like this for weeks: each bleary dawn, the fickle light, the slow descent into twilight. There are consolations, however. A morning sky like burnished silver; the sly moon, gliding across the landscape. After a snow the light is brilliant, and on the first day of the year we dredge for hope in its drifts.

Because all the things we might love appear without warning, appear out of nowhere, like the red bird in winter that turns the season toward light. The winter swells like a wound; it wells up in us, suspends us, shovels in mid-air. We are mastodons, lumpen fossils, until something in us trickles free, until the crystalline structure shatters and we move again, pushing toward the horizon.

On the first day of the year the houses across the alley loom like old ghosts. They waver in a squall, their shape traced and erased by branches. A cardinal lands in the cedar, sings despite the storm. A light goes on in someone's kitchen, a kettle scrapes across the stove. And rapidly I dress and put on my coat, and go out to greet the year.

[Cardinal image by kwei and used under the aegis of a Creative Commons license.]

[email this story] Posted by Amy Lavender Harris on 01/01 at 12:13 PM

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