It isn’t beauty that brings you here, or not quite;
traipsing up into the last of the weather
day after day, carrying the cold home like a crime.
The hush in the hills is neither kind nor unkind;
just a stark breath, the soft taint of loam
in its teeth, singing vespers of feather and bone.
At most, there is a sparing muteness, a chaffinch
welt of sun caught in a claw of ash,
a throb of ease as thought whitens to its element.
More often, the sought thing stands wary, keeps
to the cross-hatched cloister of pines,
muttering aloft unseen as your footfall disturbs
a small kill, its ravened handful of brightness
all unfletched, a scarce lacquer
of scarlet deepening on the fingernail stones.
It isn’t beauty, exactly, but something sister close, gathering
galaxies in its patient waltz, folding
the seeded wind around you, knowing you for its own.