I know in some towns there are no welcome signs
for your loitering-in-the-street ways
or ‘mistaking’ everyone’s garden for a salad bar.
But here, the herd is welcome.
You rise from your resting place to grace my day.
Safe from coyote, behind woodchuck’s berm and compost bin,
braced against cold hard facts, you forage on
always present to sound and smell.
How does one endure the kind of bitterness
that freezes every breath and
draws tears to well
from eyes firmly resolved against it?
Do your little ones hear bedtime stories of poor Mr. Tumnus
or tremble with nightmares of a fireless hell?
Do they beg for tales of sunny green fields and
whine for something warm to chew?
I’ve seen the way you bed down in that circular way at night,
backs to each other, facing outward,
ever faithful to the herd. Sleep watching.
Waiting for daylight to return.
And when it does,
the cardinal comes to grace your day
while I resist the urge to bring you
heated blankets and warm food.