Paper Birch

by Michael J. Carter

The paper birch unscrolls sheaf
   after sheaf through long wintry
      afternoons. The snow speaks glitter

and patience. Drifts wall in the dirt
   road, ploughed cliffs.  Woodpecker,
       chickadee, jay, cardinal scattering

seeds.  When does the separation happen between
   a bell struck and its sounding? Bare winter
      trees gather snow, the dark mother holding

the light: The Virgin of Pity Holding Open Her Robes.
   Here: thawing, the sugary melt into spring, greening
      on-going life, viva voce, the language of transformation;

a scatter of wings, the hieroglyph for red lifts off
   the page, flamingos heading to feed on the shrimp
      that dyes their feathers. Can you see it?

In everything is something else. In every poem, a prayer.
   Let mine say this: a walk in the woods, a dog on a leash
      listening to almost every word uttered.

MICHAEL J. CARTER is a poet and clinical social worker. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College he holds an MFA from Vermont College and an MSW from Smith. Poems of his have appeared in such journals as Boulevard, Ploughshares, Provincetown Arts Magazine, Western Humanities Review, among many others. He lives with his two hounds and spends his time swimming and knitting. 

Photo: “Paper Birch” by diane cordell