Charlottesville, 9:00 A.M.

For once, snow; its drapery everywhere

Like the pure wool of midnight,

The thoughtless swooning of a shawl.

On the porch outside my window

Six sparrows breakfast on seeds.

Their world gone white, their life

Suddenly monastic and severe.

No wind; yet their brown, terrestrial habits

Flutter and jump.

And one lone cardinal.

Their master, their lord of terrible aspect.

Descends to join them, alights

With a flourish and rises again.

Weightless as ashes, vivid as flame.