In the afternoon, the cardinals called
from one side of the road to the other,
and back again, in their scarlet on white
notes of winter discontent.
I walked between the call and response
of the two red bluesmen,
each pining for something they felt,
not knowing a definitive why,
other than “I hafta.”
To my left, I heard the song again,
and then the drive and dip flight
toward my right of the late winter player.
Toward what? Did it matter?
Snow began to fall and the song faded
among the maples.
I whistled something like
the cardinal’s song among the flakes
along my way home.
On the snowy shoulder of a birch
out front of the house, I saw him,
his head moving in twitchy turns
with my twitchy air.
He corrected my pronunciation
and flew off, disappearing in the wash
of white surrounding us. I dutifully
brushed snow from the doorway
and wondered what it’d be like
to stop pining, to feel something
other than cold, and know why
I wanted to continue singing.
Maybe just because “I hafta.”