Gail Ghai


Before I leave for work
I set out more birdseed and suet
so the juncos and jays can peck
millet and corn, that yellow life
somersaulting onto the snow.

Cat curious, the juncos watch
with their charcoal/white bodies
divided in half
like two sides of the moon,
one light, one dark, each a distinct pole
midnight Arctic, permafrost Antarctic.
Or those other cold parallels
that separate distances of stars, men and women,
who try to reach across zones
of time, the hard tundra of past or forgiveness
that each explorer discovers
in the base camp of regret.

They always forget to pack more provisions
than love requires.
You never know the shapes of hunger.
Or what you'll meet face-to-face
in the darkness, the bitter cold.
Sometimes all that's left to mark our race
to the poles
are snow blindness
and frozen diaries.