Start with a March window,
sun ablaze to melt snow,
a birdseed scattered porch.

Cardinals, chickadees, titmice,
white crowned sparrows,
juncos and towhees, cracking

black oil to live another day.
Necessity fills the world with altars.
Mockingbird fusses at any beaks

that near the suet. For me
red buds forming on maples
speak of roots awakening

in their earthy fungus bed,
willing to risk a hard frost
to open spring. Pretend

is human—disappointment
a selfish form of prayer. So
I’ll take the shovel to the drive—

Earn your hope, father speaks
from the grave. In the road
crow has found a dead squirrel,

starts with the eyes. One’s misfortune
makes another’s breakfast. Today
sunshine is the door of Plato’s Cave.

Winter’s shadows on the wall can’t
entice me to read. Crocus shoots
break sod beneath soft snow.

Bill Brown