Cardinal in February: O‘ahu
When I see a cardinal in February, I think of snow
even as I stand on a green lawn beneath palms
and plumeria, watering the grass. I think the bird
must wonder where the long drifts of winter are,
for once, days grew shorter, and snow was inescapable.
When the others fled south, flying in martial V’s
and raucous flocks to follow summer, the cardinals
remained, linked to the land in a way that denied seasons
and weather and want. Cardinals were as rooted to place
as any maple, oak, or elm I remember in all
the places I’ve forgotten. Some human caged and carried
enough cardinals to the tropics that here is one, bold
and red, his striking song ringing from a telephone wire.
And now, he lights on the ground in a silvered circle
of morning grass, and because I cannot
not think his thoughts, I think he thinks, “Yes, this is it.
Here I am.” The rainbow in the spray can’t touch
the crimson of his wings. Even marooned on O‘ahu,
the cardinal cannot care, yet I am as transfixed by his red
on this green as I once was by his scarlet in the snow.
Pulling a hardy weed, I’m the one who wonders
about the fading drifts of yesteryear, the one who walked
away from place after place to find another place.
I turn the spigot, coil the hose, and wipe away my sweat.
Now, his mate flits to the fence, bronze and watchful,
silent as he skips through a slanting ray of winter sun
over ground he claims with only a shadow.
About the Author Eric Paul Shaffer is author of Lāhaina Noon and Portable Planet. A Million-Dollar Bill, his sixth book of poetry, was published by Grayson Books in August 2016. More than 450 of his poems appear in local, national, and international reviews. He teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Honolulu Community College.
About the Artist Mohammed Ali Mirzaei was born in Iran, Tehran (1982). His BA is in the field of News Photography at the University of Culture & Art Isfahan. His works have been in various festivals in Iran, including: First Place in "National Festival of Iranian people," Fourth Place in the "Women and urban life" festival, Winner of Best Collection in the “Festival of Film & Photo Young Cinema,” and chosen for the Fereshteh Prize (Tehran 2015). His photos have also been published in Midway Journal, Oxford Magazine, The Missing Slate, and Silk Road Review.