We woke in the darkness, looking out
into the light, the entrance curtained
with ice. The sunlight caught
as it would behind a window,
luminescent like the first sun.
Already, trickles of melt were running
in barely detectable currents, cold beads
on the tips of the frozen. By mid-morning,
the ice would drop, a harvest loosened
from the limestone. Reluctantly,
we kicked our way out. The span of ice
shattered with the force of our boots
across the leaf fall. We emerged
into the early sun, cold pinching our nostrils,
each step a snapping twig, a circling crow,
a woodpecker drumming dead wood.
Al Ortolani's newest collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, will be released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. His poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, and New York Quarterly. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Currently, he teaches English in the Kansas City area.