Bare Branches

by arid cold
by water-thin sunlight
It is hard to know
who out here reveals more.

To be deciduous is to be
naked on a schedule
working the peep show swing shift
taking it all off before
the year’s window closes.

Warmer seasons layer
with a couturier’s abandon
thick under the hand.
It’s hard to tell when
enough really is enough
if too much is just as good.

Autumn swishes red skirts
drops a leaf or two
draws all eyes as
the first twigs bare.
Hickory ash dogwood haw
garments ankle-deep and loud
until a fleece of snow
silences them altogether.

Against that sparkling blank
a stand of cedars loiter
bundled into thick olive robes
hemlines indulgent
the breath between them invisible.

A broad-shouldered beech
in last season’s slip:
rough paper
in need of an iron
the color of saffron honey.
Wearing something
dressed in nothing
wide as the day.

The eye returns to
what it can’t quite see.
Gap in the curtains
skin between glove and cuff
the long day in midwinter.

The thrall of a
perpetual January in
a constant June.

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