A small bird stands regnant on the sill, haloed
by the darkest light of the year. To him, the sill
is the timber of the gods, and he is the surveyor
of freezing rain and snow, of ice
mounding the patio furniture’s metal rungs,
of the one red bulb above the emergency exit.
With black stems and stalks, he crowds a hollow
between the building’s bricks, a rough nest
dressed with frozen droppings in thin gray lines.
He knows there are laws to follow—of distance,
of gravity. Beyond him, cars scuttle like bugs
through dirt and salt; a shopkeeper arranges blue
vases and orange flowers; the clock above the drugstore
reads 8 a.m.; steam from the bagel shop and laundromat
mix and smell the same; garbage bags sealed with tape
puddle in the road; an empty bottle rests alone
beneath the roof’s barbed wire.
And for the first time ever, the window across the way
frames a woman, head lowered to read a book
in the blue cloud-light, the pages braided
with colored slips of paper. She brings a thoughtful finger
to her mouth, turns on one foot, the walks away
to show her cotton briefs and the elusive swing
of her smooth, white legs.