A Winter Poem

And We Need to Go Home

Every winter, clans of bears
curl up in the same caves,
their musk calling each other home.
In Spring, migrating birds
follow continental flyways
millions have mapped before.
Bees recognize their queen’s hive.
Old salmon lunge upstream
threading their own rivers,
led by the will to spawn.
We too, follow
some human compass
through genealogic geography.
Some voice of aging compels us
along memoried paths
back to old houses, weedy barns,
distant homelands.
Is it the instinct to speak
the unspoken, knowing
that some winters, the cold
wind takes health with it?
Do we feel the shifting
topography of forests
giving way to freeways?
Are we haunted by knowing
secret insults kill
bees and best friends.
Or seeing a familiar river,
are we reminded
that in the quiet shallows,
floating near their precious roe,
even the most devoted mothers
are dying? We are still the living,
and we need to go home.

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