Winter Wren


Received this morning, one winter wren,
a gift from Tux, our cat, who found it hopping
on the ground in the front garden like a vole,
which is what I thought it was,
and, to be frank, slowed my rescue.

When I called Tux, he left it,
but then, as though remembering
his manners, returned to fetch it in.
A last minute offering, the way you,
a person of good manners, might stop
at an all-night drugstore to pick up
a hostess gift after an impromptu
dinner invitation. Though none
was expected or needed.

So it was my fate to hold the tiny wren
through its final tremor and twitch,
its wiry legs pedaling slowly until it lay
loose headed in the manner of the dead.
Its chestnut feathers lifting
at the final moment, as if something
was released, and then subsiding
as the checker spotted breast stilled.

This poem is her epitaph.
Let the universe take note
of the loss of one young winter
wren, who died in my hand
while the ever hopeful Tux,
purred with pleasure,
and graciously waited
for me to eat it.


Howard Kogan, Indian Summer, Square Circle Press, 2011.