I’ve been talking to a bug all winter.
We live together, he and I.
He’s listed in the manual, oddly
wandering here from a warmer state.
His kind of insect must stay alive
all the coldest months, true bug
appearing indoors when you least expect.
But he is faultless: he will not
sting, bite, breed, eat or shit.
Mostly, he is motionless,
a long brittle shell, antennae
rarely testing the air.
His reluctant body preserves him.
I never see when he finds it necessary
to change position. He’ll choose the bedpost
for a week or so, sometimes my bureau,
perched among the rings I no longer wear.
He keeps to my room with nothing
to say, no complaint to wake me.
Ours is a companionable life,
both of us going about our business—
mine bent on feeding a hungry past,
his great feat of living without.
On the first warm day, he’ll know
—just like that, some screen will open.
Until then, I find him a good listener.
He doesn’t mind. He waits.
I Will Be Good
I will be good, I will wait
on the birds, the turkeys, the deer. I will provide
the black-oil seeds, dried corn
(the gold so shiny on snow), and I will not watch
the progressive stripping
of the slender ornamental cherry.
For the clumsy doves, I will use my hands
to dig out the scatter of thrown-out seed,
and even after the woodpecker fattens and preens,
I will render the suet, cool it and mold it,
and wade out to his old lone tree
to hang it free from other feeders.
As for my finches in their sullen coats of dun and ash,
fluffed feathers holding off the cold
but not the hardening weight of record snow,
what can I do but beg.
And when that icy knot of a creature
falls on my porch,
I will bring a hairdryer
and plug it into the outdoor socket, and I will cover
the bird with diffused, kind air.
I will warm the great outdoors
for the whole of January if I can.
I must be good, and I will see it
if a single breath stirs.