Magpie with the streamer tail,
elegance in black and white,
cocks a beady eye and says,
the worst is yet to come.
Beneath the tree the river roars,
the solstice night waits in the wings
with longer darkness than before.
Talons grip the branches tight
and leave white fur of crystal ice
to show that winter owns the field.
With ruffled feathers songbirds wait
for dawns that break as sharp as glass
and dull as water in the ditch.
Deck the boughs with balls of fat
and fat ripe seeds in plastic nets,
so songbirds will resist the cold
to lay bright eggs in tepid spring
for magpie with the streamer tail.