Quiet now, too quiet

by Marge Piercy

The chipmunks are sleeping underground.
The squirrels are just curled up in nests
groggy but may wake if the air warms.

Trees are naked and won’t thrust open
their buds for months.  Everything
we could pick we ate, froze or canned.

The gardens are just bare fields snow
covers with its threadbare tablecloth.
Perennials have gone into the soil

to hide, stiff dry stalks marking their
lairs.  The birds that go are gone south.
A few winter moths and gnats swarm.

Who knows what they eat to survive?
They feel like an accident in this weather.
The sky is distant and grey so pale

it’s almost white.  From spring to hard
frost our woods teem.  Now only an owl
beats by at dusk hooting like a tiny

mournful train from my childhood.
Still every perch on the feeders draws
a hungry chickadee or finch. They keep

us company while the world freezes
and a quarter of the town has gone south.

— from Juniper Volume 3, Issue 3