[January 23]

The car door’s slam echoes brightly
in the cold December air. Inside
the restaurant, a man chats with the cashier,
speaking too quickly, eyes too dangerously alive. This is a dangerous
time of year. A mouse lies near
the double doors, probably frozen, paws
tucked close to its chin as if in
mid-pounce. There are bigger pawprints
in the parking lot, a sure sign
of wolves, although we never see them.
Wolves belong to the dusk and dawn anyway,
not to the early morning
when every razor-sharp outline
bleeds its color into the sky.
The man steps off the porch, his whistling sparking and pure. He carries
a single plastic-wrapped eclair,
to be eaten in his truck, slowly,
as he waits for the edge of cold
to fade away.