A robin is slowly building her nest. She sits on one of the higher branches of our still winter-naked maple. She anxiously tucks small twigs, weaving the impenetrable. Each time I walk beneath she sits up and chides me. She is an expert in propriety.
My lover and I walk down a rutted path, grasses worn down by our predecessors. We walk for half a day, half an hour. Time does not matter. We stop to rest. We are encircled by towering pines. Several, I know, want to collapse onto a soft bed of needles. All want to open the sky. Neither she nor I remember why we are here. Shards of passing clouds ignore us, offer no answers. Our fingers interlace. Did I do this? Did she? My skin is wrinkled, dry bark. I have been in this forest once before, I think — perhaps that was a dream. I do not say this. For her this is newness. She is awed by the redwood, something so large, something so fragile, how does it lick at heaven without retribution? My lover smiles: “I have been to places like this, but never here.” The sun retreats slowly, parting beams dance through slivered breaches in the canopy. The chill of onrushing evening draws us back along the path. We step in each others’ measured footprints. We startle a robin from a margining bush. It flies angrily into a forced solitude. Dusk cedes the reluctant sun.
Later, home, I walk past the barren maple: the robin stares down at me. Passing beneath, the sun breasted bird whispers “we prize our peace and remember those who would deny it to us.” It is night.