dedicated to C. H. Hilley

I never liked being cold before this winter,
the intensity of it too much for my overactive nervous system to bare.

But in your absence I’ve grown numb,
perhaps some protective mechanism within my cells
wants to keep me warm.

The sun is rising over the teal house next door and the maple tree shades our backyard.

I watch silhouettes of birds flutter and bounce through the bushel of bamboo.
For a moment, I pretend not know who they are.

The same family of cardinals we’ve fed since last spring,
that have made the outside of our home, their own.

And how I gloated with glee to my grandfather,
how lucky were we to watch these hatchlings grow, although
he had surely watched dozens of cardinals raise their young
from the front porch of my childhood home on Meadowbrook.

I wish I could call him now to say hello,
and that the cardinals are still here and happy,
and that I love him dearly,
and that these three weeks have been the most lonely.

I would hope he knows that 
no matter how lost I feel without him here,
I will remember all that he taught me.

And in my grief, I will grow.
I will live out his legacy in little acts of love and grace and compassion forever and until we meet again.

For today, I will feed the birds and think of him.

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