I keep thinking they missed their cue,
seduced by some false November sun
and now suffering for their sins.
Such scrawny legs and feet, translucent claws!
Yet they seem to survive: chickadee, junco
nuthatch, cardinal. These birds of winter searching
for seeds, spiders, tree buds, fluffing their feathers
for warmth–alone, in pairs or flocks
that litter my yard or string themselves
in black rosaries across the sky.
In a blizzard they disappear, huddling,
I hope, in hedges, the downwind side of trees.
In the morning sun, a nuthatch flutters in a backyard fir,
tooting his horn like an answered prayer.
Jack Powers is the author of Everybody's Vaguely Familiar. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, Inkwell and elsewhere. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. Visit his website: http://www.jackpowers13.com/poetry/.