As dawn clears haze from the valley's fallow field the sun creeps up my back, leans my shadow long over snow-bleached grass depressed to silence. From under my feet meandering with the serpentine creek, twisting sprites raise a whiff of new beginnings. While scanning middle distance for the come-hither of cardinals, I'm distracted by an interloper to my right. Within spitting distance, a dark, weathered oak leaf spins and zigzags parallel to my path until, as if in gratitude for my attention, it abruptly runs straight at me. Instinctively alarmed yet skeptical of animism, I stand fast. It hesitates, falls prostrate at my feet…
between canticles of cardinals a sign of the cross
Our universe shrinks to the hand span between us. Knees bent and chin to chest I inspect this tattered stranger, note its missing forefinger. It quivers very slightly. There's no breeze for a cause: I pause.
A muffled drum marks time in my temple as a slow fuse of recognition snakes up my spine. Late last fall, while abrupt gusts increased all about, I struggled up this creek's steep bank, my boots and gloves crackling its pane of snow glaze. And there, beside me: was that you, with your curled forefinger like mine, clawing for higher ground, terrified of a backward slip into the accumulating black waters? Then came the wind god's sudden calm, and you, God forsaken, skidded back down into the deep as I clambered up over the bank to the warmth of home…
the bleak creek's murmur a psalm easter borne