Winter Landscape with Bird Trap
(Pieter Brueghel, the Elder)
Only sparrows fly down, crows wait in treetops.
We spend a lifetime arriving at each moment
like birds alighting on snow.
Pushing out on the frozen river, we know any one
of us may crack the spine, splinter the surface,
yet we each arrive, hopeful crocus
in late February, and glide on. Another sparrow
lands, on the trapped door, another darts under
for seed. What is it darkness feeds us?
What fills our wits with its pluck, like little hoppers
about the scattered seeds, shadowed by broad door
set up on a wicket stick, string running
into the square, black window at which each bird
glances, only to return to the promise of manna
under the wood shadow on snow?