Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2016  Vol. 15 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Cardinal
i.m. Claudia Emerson

Today is cold and so bright
I have to squint at the high drifts, the light

purple-tinged, nearly unbearable as I walk
back to classes, seeing tree trunks chalked

with smudging, soft lines of fresh snow.
This year is tired and old, and I know

time only as the step between dark and sleep,
the stinging breath I hold through the quick sweep

of sun brushing my face. I look through the glass:
bare bushes, the dull birds who pass

through the frame and are gone. This time
is like each time before. Through the grime

and plow sludge, the powder sky, he appears
on the branch: crimson, fluttering, clear.

My husband thinks I’ve imagined him, that no bird
like this comes here—but I’ve heard

him sing through dim afternoons, know
he flies mildly, lighting the winter, goes
where we can’t follow.  

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