A Cardinal in February
by Russell Rowland

So I am shoveling winter's latest downfall
out of my drive, wondering where to put it,
the ramparts rise--and one laconic birch
by the garage breaks into melody on high,
where a shard of scarlet sits against the sky.

Spring arrives by increments, until we live
each moment in the promise of the next.
An apostle is identified as he reacts to fire
overhead by speaking a variety of tongues
frozen silent since the dusty Book of Acts.

Earthen cardinals flock to Rome this week
to select a Pope. The congress of red caps
like checkers on a checkerboard will chant,
Habemus Papam, then flap off back home
to feather their respective diocesan nests.

That birch becomes a candle in the white
dark of shortened days, diminished hopes.
My first birthday returns: I'm as innocent
as in the beginning. A wild wind blows.
The flame leaps, passes overhead, singing.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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