There are only three weeks when there isn’t
frost. It’s a carpet and a maze
and, with the insects moving,
sways, as nothing pins it down.
Willows, the trees
in songs about biers and yew and death,
grow horizontally. One four-hundredth of an inch
is life there, a year’s allowance.
They’ll be lucky if they ever grow a yard.
Leaves in the summer, seventeen
species of poppies and their centers
directing daylight, very simply, to the heart.
Which is here, a hairy surface
that is soft and unfamiliar, trapping warmth airtight
in a grip. The flowers close at night
to keep the living things inside them unfrozen.
Thrift, buttercups. All impossible
things at once. They’ve evolved
not beyond, but for the harsh condition.
Marsh marigold, cotton grass.
The owls hide nine or none,
depending on the sun and the extent
of the lean times, living on skin. Then
what’s under the skin.