Poem: The winter-king

little-word bird little wren
feathered lung only built for singing
purifying freezing air through
a feather ball chitter chatter piper
little wren little brownleaf keeneye
built for singing
round like a minim
little wren pink wire feet
gripping winter’s branches
holding on to cold little bird
only built to pipe built to whistle
keeneye watching snow fall
crowning the holly little thornbeak
feathered bauble hanging on the pine
only built to sing
turning cold air into arias
too quick for the ice to catch
little keeneye raised eyebrow
jingling the dead leaf bells
surely too small to be —
but they say you’re the winter-king
only you can sing us into light


Rae Howells

This poem won the Rialto Nature and Place Competition, judged by Michael Longley, and was published in issue 91 of the Rialto.
No part of this poem may be reproduced without the express permission of the author.

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