Two Cardinals On a Blue Winter Day

They have been perched on that leafless branch

most of the morning. The hen has been facing

north. She watches for some hint that winter

is ready to recede back beyond the fields.

Yesterday I saw her gather bits of twig beneath

the pines. She is eager to build a new nest,

to fill it with creatures whose small songs

will bring back urges that enjoy the hunt.

The male has faced south all this time. I'm

told his senses are so acute he can close

his eyes and know the instant a gulf wind changes.

He and his kind haven't flown south for years.

They have found ways to survive Nebraska's deep

love for what winter brings to the plains.

There is a secret place in the shelter belt

they claim as home all year round. I do not know

where all their children go. I see young ones

come with them to the feeders most of the summer,

but by October they resume dining alone out here.

By December they return to their mysterious searching.

Fredrick Zydek