Of Rodents and Songbirds
by Ken Hada

Winter takes over – white snow
covers yellow grass the color of chicken
broth served in a pea-green bowl inside
walls where fear and contentment
hold truce in mutual respect of death.

The beauty of a snowy morning mixed
with the dread of zero temperatures
sways at the mercy of fragile electricity.

How close we are to rodents and songbirds
cloistered in knots of scattered brush, ice
drops frozen in place, crusty snow covering
hidden lairs – tiny hearts beating at fever
pace just to survive – something no one sees,
something rarely considered.

Radio reports the death of Nelson Mandela,
quickly recounts his life, his incarceration,
quotes his call for forgiveness …

here on the frigid southern plains
the news seems foreign and faded like a bent
photograph found in a shoebox tucked away
in a closet, an aging, displaced postcard
from the other side of the world.

Candle-flame flickers. I look out windows
across a white pasture, feel winter in my bones
and see the death only beauty can forgive.

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