mallard pair

According to the calendar

it is spring, and if

the songbirds are to be believed

trilling in the afternoon sun,

I could shed my coat

and pleasantly agree, but

the cozy on my can of Rainier

beer and the glacial receding

of the snowbank still here in my yard

resists the 39 degrees warming

me at the rate of defrosting

anything in a walk-in cooler. I guess

this typical breath of spring

reminds me of other March lions

I’ve known (one below zero

fifty years ago) and scratched

behind the ears, tried to

fluff into a sun-baked lamb

that kept kneading me with its cold

claws and flashing those fangs

in the maw of its long-dark throat.

This black sheep has just one more

week to break out of the icy coat

its worn for the last five months

and lean into its springy-ness,

lighten up, for Christ’s sake, embrace

an Easter a naked Buddha could

contemplate. Patience, presence:

it’s difficult to be here

without tomorrow or yesterday,

the way the mallards dabble,

tip and preen, under cloud or sun

on the quiet river channel,

flipping beads of water

that catch the rays of light

reflecting the shimmering surface

like fire against the trunks

of cottonwoods along the bank

and whose limb-buds remind me

of what’s blooming ahead,

the promise of old dreams come

back and true to my desire

to recreate this day into bright greens

moistened warm by April showers.

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