Psalm of Robins

A hearty winter psalm, the redbreast robins work
The holly tree from base camps in the bramblewood
Across the street. They disappear into the green
To pop out one by one and cut through icy air
En route to comrades waiting in the naked sticks.
And aren’t redbreasts thought to be a sign of spring?

Disturbing all the new-dropped snow, the branches spring
And wings unfold to flap above the dirty work
Of shovels through the hardpack and the slush that sticks
To everything, including cords of firewood
Left stacked beneath the vagaries of the open air.
Neglect and reckoning. And still, the evergreen

Resplendent in its alb convenes its wintergreen
Communion. Slings the laity. A constant spring
Of russet softballs, the preliminary air
Support for April’s landing party sets to work
Across the wires. It flips to diving patterns that would
Throw the errant angels earthward as it sticks

To February gorging. Crimson berries, sticks
And brambles, snow and sunlight complement the green
Cathedral and the mistletoe. The ice and wood
Will be here in the morning. Set the spring
Of winter’s clock to wind as slowly and to work
As unpredictably as cloudlines in the air.

They’re everywhere, endowing the suburban air
With Hitchcock premonition. Here’s a scene that sticks
With you and draws you in. Inspired by the work
Of Bruegel and Hieronymus—the devil’s green,
A pastorale of grey and white—these songs that spring
Across the lawn have sketchy harmonies, a wood

Ensemble hitting strings and tympani with wood
And wind that lift the redbreast to its hectic air—
Survival. To a resurrection at the dawn of spring.
But in its transit from the holly to the sticks,
It comes to light upon a crucifix. The green-
sward is a mirror of the heavens now, the work

Of a capricious God, a work of frozen wood.
The swelling in the green will flutter in the air
As, tentative, the sticks hold out a prayer for spring.


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