The Marsh in Winter
by Timothy Walsh
If you stand and listen,
you will hear the voice.
Reeds sharp as rapiers rasp the wind.
Frost creaks in the trees.
Sunlight, ice-bright, falls from the sky.
Scattered cedars and junipers loom like shadows.
Sheathed in ice, a willow droops heavily
Across the path.
Driven snow packs the creviced bark of cottonwoods.
Once-hidden bird nests now plainly marked
by a white cap of snow...
Out on the marsh, blue water shows through shifting ice.
Tall brown reeds, slim as dancers, bend in the breeze.
A hundred thousand cattails, each one lit
by the low-angled light of a westering sun,
each brown seed head blazing
like the head of a saint.