Next door a cardinal

(a female) is flinging leaves under the photinia

bush. Nesting,

I suppose, like all the women in December,

flinging themselves from store to store,

from kitchen to party and back.

Barely red, the cardinal flutters to the fence

to watch me typing, typing, typing,

then bathes herself in trampoline water.

She flies from the squish of composting leaves

to the sparse pecan branches, dripping grey.

She screeches at me, “Let me out of here!”

Can’t you fly, dear bird? Can’t you pilot yourself away?

“No,” she says. “I’ll never fly more than one mile

from the nest where I was born.”

If I wanted, I could get in my car and be at the coast

by the end of today, or in the mountains

by tomorrow night. The cardinal leaves,

probably to a nearby nest. I am lucky

she came because hope is a busy cardinal

visiting on a dank holiday morning.