Poems by James Eret

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The Wintering Birds

by James Eret

From Canary Winter 2013-14

James lives with his family, two feline friends, and an ever-expanding menagerie of wild visitors to his urban oasis in the midst of the all-too-urban San Diego watershed.

My aunt is weary, knowing
in the biology of her bones
that at eighty-four the leaking heart valves
will shut down soon. She dreads
that final wrinkling
of her natural organism,
a process she has studied long and well,
teaching us the fine-tuning
of the green kingdoms.

Every time she ascends her hill,
the lace-delicate valve opening and closing
the gates of her blood
falter and remind her
of the weakness of her flesh,
the way age comes on like a Midwest blizzard blowing
in its crystalline beauty and brutality.

Hidden predators hibernate in dead cherry wood logs.
Their pulses slowly lift their lungs.
She rests too often and with restless sleep.

Snowbound, she watches, for the last time,
the wintering birds,
the blood-red cardinals stabbing
at the sunflower seeds in the feeder,
dangling by a thread
above the deeply-frozen snow.

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