Against thin woods, Siberian snow
steadily erases objects from their names,
like weevils in flour rocks crawl under the elms.
There is a place whose year is February.
A red bird on a branch is the one leaf
for acres. Ruffled at where it’s gone,
the Tartar-gold, collapsing canopy
of autumn, it repeats one cry
simply to punctuate oblivion,
a hillock-hopping, crimson cardinal
darting Virginia in disbelief.
The blizzard brushes out its airy
echo back to the original
blankness of paper that must not be marred,
but the bird thrusts itself on, the wings splay
in scary limping through enormous calm,
leaving prints on the page in bird-Cyrillic.
Through whirling syllables it is like the lyric
voice not settled on a style,
or silence in the mind of Mandelstam.