Every year around this time
I turn into a small animal,
circle myself into a sunken nest
protected from harsh winds
and conditions too stark to bear.
If you look, you will not see me
there beneath the knee-deep leaves,
nor will I poke my head out
without the cover of darkest night.
When the sun grows so meek,
resigned as a child who can’t win
his own game, the tip of my tail
will reach round to the tip of my nose
and the light will throw itself back
to its meager source.
Here I shall stay, still and unmoving
until some spring day when ice
cracks like battered glass, begins
to flow again as I unfurl, remembering
the other shapes I make, with legs
that run, and tail uncurled.
Then I’ll sniff and see who’s come
to search. I’ll lurch at first on all fours
before my stride returns. I’ll gnaw
on the tenderest greens, call out
to the northward birds and back,
and meet the world again,
after this underground season.