Hunting the Wren
Annie Woodford

The chimney sends up no smoke
this warm Christmas.

                Blackberry canes burnish
      the pasture across the road.
Switchgrass is lit by last light.

Three horses once lived there—
               one chestnut, one black, one roan.
      We used to pull clover for them,

palms flat to their nudging mouths,
watching their eyes watch our eyes.

      Winter birds beat against the sliding
      glass door of my mother’s house.

They flutter along the frame.
      Camellias grow in green abundance
                on the other side, their shadows

      holding nests and heavy flowers.
               The papers birds I made with Marion
four years ago are still stuck to the glass,
curling with age, shapes no longer
definite enough to stop such flights. 

My father gives his granddaughters 22s.
They are child-sized and have pink sights.

                That night we watch Lonesome Dove
      and Marion often covers her eyes.
The last line in the movie
(“Yes, a hell of a vision”)
               follows me down the long hallway
      to bed in the back bedroom.

The windows are painted shut.
I pull the dusty covers to my chin.

     The day after Christmas, Henry County’s
     gullies are gilded with gold leaf.
We go walk the high school track.
      The girls climb the bleachers right
                to the rim of the sky, then jump down, 

      step-by-giant concrete-step.
               They turn cartwheels on zoysia grass
shaggy as a yellow beast asleep in the heat,

while boys too old to be students
but too young not to run play football.

When I watch a video I made of that day,
the girls are shadows in sharp light.

                Their silhouettes laugh at the top
      of a sun-blown hill, their hair,
still fine with their brief years, aflame

in the day’s descent. Then they roll,
               over ground too cold for grownups.
      A wind breathes underneath their shrieks

and when they get to the bottom
they want to do it again.

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