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Robin's Breast

(after Mary Oliver's "North Country")

Faded rust
where once, in kinder decades,
fiery orange proclaimed
a welcome return of spring,
milder weather,
longer days.
In this twenty-first century,
spring's first robin
arrives in January's arctic air
as Earth's poles shrink,
as glaciers trickle slowly,
steadily into rising oceans.
once brilliant
bobbing against awakened green,
is muted now by frozen ground
gray in winter's grasp;
he scavenges for crumbs
or seeds of charity
rather than the plump worms
that caught his ear in warmer eras.
Even the cardinal knows
her scarlet brilliance
lessens robin's impact,
belittles his rank in the pecking order
thrown off kilter by a warming globe.