He awakens on February first, stunned again by that odd
wonder: how quickly old has come. Of course if his will were done
he’d have risen youthful, but age is here, he’ll own it. He thanks God
for its coming without companion pain, without reliance on medicine.
As he has since he was younger, he puts on snowshoes and clambers
drifts and up a daunting bluff. As much by determination
as muscle he powers on through the powder. The view from here—a
eastward the white White Mountains all seem to be staring placidly
ice-dams hunched in the river. He kicks his feet out of leather bindings
to climb a tree. West, a neighbor’s strange herd of alpacas mills,
all wool, though mere months back—short-shorn, with feeble reeds for
they were fragile creatures, naked, susceptible, silly, same as us all.
He forces air out through his teeth—birdwatcher trick—and imagines a
cloud, his sounds small jets of steam. Let kinglets come, he dreams.
Did an eagle shriek? Too far to tell. But golden-crowned kinglets are
from his south to land all around, on his limb and all the way up to the
then are gone so quickly he all but missed the marvel: the kinglets