Suppose for a moment
they do not migrate south
for the winter as everyone assumes
but instead don black hoods
and abandon leaf strewn lawns
for the white freedom of December skies.
Were you to look just so
you might see flocks of them
flashing their fiery badges
where the sun has barely cleared
the tops of distant trees.
And were you walking in the woods,
where ice is just beginning
to skim the creek that’s pooling
behind the fallen sycamores and oaks,
if you listened, you might hear them
scratching in the bracken,
see their shadows mirrored
in the surface of the stream
as they bow to drink
at the swifter narrow sluices.
— Stephen Meats
Stephen Meats has taught literature and creative writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas since 1979. He has published poems and short stories in various journals, and his book of poems, Looking for the Pale Eagle (1993) was published by Woodley Memorial Press. He has been poetry editor of The Midwest Quarterly since 1985.