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July 2015, vol 11 no 2

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Kyle D. Craig

Before Work

In early morning hours, when night still swallows the sky and a choir of chickadees has yet to commence, I sit inside my living room where logs are stacked beside a red brick fireplace and smoke rises from my coffee like a blown out match.

I stare through a single pane window at the woods in the distance. Although now more difficult to distinguish due to draped canopies of snow, from treks of my youth I still know where each sycamore stands, where limbs of sweet gum and white ash intertwine, where one flowering dogwood bends beneath an Eastern pine.

window sill
the candle's scent
of evergreen

Down the hallway in a bedroom my ten-month old daughter sleeps in a crib encased with white bars. Tucked beneath a lavender blanket ornated with yellow dragonflies, her chest rises and falls to produce small puffs of wind.

I hope one day she can roam those trees and learn the lessons that aren’t taught on screens; to know which berries can be picked and popped into mouth, when irises will bloom in Spring, or how to distinguish a cardinal from wren by the songs they sing.

arms and legs
swoosh in unison . . .
snow angel

The tick of the clock and the emergence of morning light, however, remind me that by the front door my keys hang from a hook and my boots sit untied upon the mat. In neighbor’s driveways I see shovels swing like pendulums, wool mittens and car door handles square off in tug-of-war, scrapers clear windshields through flames of white breath.

As I exit the screen door and my cheeks meet the sting of bitter air, I pause a moment to imagine my daughter wandering unencumbered through those woods. I hope she learns that high in those limbs reside a thousand nests, and in each one a father who cares for his young—by leaving them.

shepherd’s hook
an empty suet feeder
covered by frost